Missouri began the 2005 season needing a successful campaign. It’s hard to say if coach Gary Pinkel was on the hot seat, but the blown leads and disappointment of 2004 lingered. The Tigers did have senior quarterback Brad Smith, and an exciting freshman quarterback in Chase Daniel who represented the future and a transition to continued success at the position.
Missouri opened with a 44-17 win over Arkansas State at Arrowhead Stadium. Daniel got to play in the game, although the public address announcer briefly called him Chad.
Missouri then hosted New Mexico in the home opener on Sept. 10. My first home game as a student. The Tigers struggled to cover Hank Baskett, the Lobos’ incredible receiver who would go on to play in the NFL and marry Playboy playmate Kendra Wilkinson, and New Mexico won 45-35.
The Tigers did get some revenge on Troy the next week, winning 52-21 to head into Big 12 play at 2-1. Missouri opened conference play with a home game against No. 2 Texas, who would go on to win the national title that year. It was a tough ask for any team, and Missouri lost 51-20.
Missouri did win 38-31 at Oklahoma State on Oct. 8, setting up what would be, in hindsight, a pivotal Homecoming game with Iowa State.
Missouri struggled on offense all day, and in the fourth quarter Iowa State led 24-14 when Smith was knocked out of the game. Daniel took the field and promptly led the Tigers back, tying the game and then winning 27-24 in overtime. Assuming the rest of the season played out the same, which obviously might not have been the case, Missouri needed that win to make a bowl. It might have been the game that gave Pinkel some stability.
In any event, Missouri hosted Nebraska the next week and won, 41-24, the same score as the Tigers’ breakthrough 2003 home win over the Huskers. Nebraska fans grew more vexed with Bill Callahan.
Missouri had a three-game winning streak, but it ended in rough fashion, losing an ugly 13-3 game at Kansas, a third straight loss to the Jayhawks. The Tigers then got hammered 41-12 at No. 24 Colorado, the eventual Big 12 North winner. Although the Buffaloes would lose 70-3 to Texas in the Big 12 title game, and coach Gary Barnett would be fired.
Missouri was now 5-4, but in their third crack at securing bowl eligibility they did it, winning 31-16 over Baylor before a fairly sparse home crowd, the effects of a so-so season and it being opening day of deer season in Missouri.
The Tigers wrapped up the regular season on Nov. 19 at Kansas State. It was an emotional day in Manhattan, as the old legend Bill Snyder announced it would be his last game coaching the Wildcats before retiring. He would later come back and coach another decade, but at the time it was a goodbye. They renamed the stadium for him and his family. The crowd was jacked. Missouri hung tough, but a late pick where Smith appeared to throw right to a K-State defender was returned for a Pick 6 touchdown, and K-State won 36-28.
Missouri finished the regular season at 6-5 and went back to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, facing South Carolina of the SEC. Played on Dec. 30, Missouri overcame a 21-0 first-quarter deficit to win 38-31, capping it with a 17-3 surge during the fourth quarter. Brad Smith was the offensive MVP, and cornerback Marcus King, who had a long return touchdown, was the defensive MVP.
Missouri finished the season at 7-5, heading fully into the Chase Daniel era in 2006.
2005: 14 years ago, tied for 2nd in the Big 12
Record: 7-5, 4-4 in Big 12