Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mizzou 50: 1999 Tigers returned to losing ways

1999: 20 years ago, tied for 5th in Big 12 North

Record: 4-7, 1-7 in Big 12

Missouri clearly needed to rebuild in 1999 after losing several key players from the 1997 and 1998 bowl teams. But the Tigers took quite a step back even with that context in mind, tumbling to 1-7 in Big 12 play, tied for last in the Big 12 north.

The Tigers did get off to a decent start, albeit with close home wins against manageable opposition. Missouri won 31-28 against UAB to open the season, and then 48-34 over Western Michigan two weeks later.

But then came a Sept. 25 game against No. 5 Nebraska. The Huskers, who would win the Big 12 title that year, won 40-10 in Columbia.

Missouri followed that win a 27-17 win at Memphis, in the Liberty Bowl Stadium. The Tigers were 3-1, but conference play continued to go poorly.

Missouri lost 46-39 in overtime at Colorado. The Buffaloes were coached by Gary Barnett, a Mizzou alum who had played on MU’s last conference title team, 30 years previously. Then came a 24-21 Homecoming loss to a not-good Iowa State team, and a disastrous 21-0 loss at rival Kansas.

The Tigers got a hold of themselves and won 34-7 at home against Texas Tech, but that would be their only conference win.

On Nov. 6, Missouri lost 37-0 at Oklahoma, which was seeing immediate results in Year 1 with head coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Mike Leach.

Missouri then got pounded 51-14 by Texas A&M in Columbia, and then obliterated 66-0 by No. 9 Kansas State in Manhattan. That made it three shutout losses in the team’s final five games. The margins of defeat in some of those late October and November games had to be frustrating. After two very fun years for Missouri, the program had quickly slipped back to lower-tier status in the conference. The next season, 2000, would be important for Larry Smith and the Tigers.

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