The 2006 Missouri season felt like a fresh start, with Chase Daniel taking over as the starter at quarterback. He had seen action as a freshman in 2005, usually playing a series each game, but the product of Texas fully had the reins in 2006.
The team got off to a hot start, creating a buzz on campus and around the state. Missouri rolled to big home wins over Murray State and Ole Miss, then churned out a road win against Rocky Long’s scrappy New Mexico Lobos in Albuquerque to move to 3-0.
The Tigers beat Ohio 31-6 on Sept. 23, then entered the rankings at No. 25 and won 28-13 against Colorado on Sept. 30 at Faurot Field. 5-0.
Missouri then outgunned Texas Tech 38-21 in Lubbock for a 6-0 start. The Tigers were bowl eligible by Oct. 7, and aiming higher now.
Missouri was ranked No. 19 for a trip to Texas A&M on Oct. 14, a game broadcast on ABC in the classic afternoon time slot. The Aggies halted the Tigers’ momentum, winning 25-19 to drop Missouri to 6-1.
The Tigers next played Kansas State in a rainy, cold Homecoming game. The Wildcats took the early lead on a defensive touchdown, but the Tigers were the better team and won 41-21.
Then came a tough three-game stretch to take some of the shine off the season. Missouri lost 26-10 at home to No. 19 Oklahoma, then lost 34-20 at eventual Big 12 North winner Nebraska, and then lost 21-16 at a dreadful Iowa State team that was apparently inspired, playing its last game for Dan McCarney. The Cyclones benefitted from a debated holding call on Missouri late in the game. On fourth down from the 1, Chase Daniel scored a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute for the Tigers, but a holding call negated the score and Missouri was stopped on the next play. Pinkel was furious, and after the game apparently decided to award his team the game, referring to his team’s “great comeback win.” A big schedule in the Tigers’ home locker room would later show the game as win. But it was, despite an apology from the Big 12 office saying the call was wrong, a loss, dropping Missouri to 7-4.
The Tigers were likely able to make themselves feel a little better with a 42-17 drubbing of Kansas in Columbia, finishing the regular season at 8-4 and 4-4 in Big 12 play.
Missouri capped the season with a delightful bowl assignment, the historic old Sun Bowl in El Paso on Dec. 29, facing No. 24 Oregon State.
It was one of those quirky and memorable trips that college football can encourage you to take. I rode with some friends on a charter bus MU organized to take students to the game. El Paso is a unique city, Texas but very Southwestern, removed from other metro areas, tucked into some mountains along the border. Tiger students making signs had a lot of material referring to Oregon State’s beaver mascot.
It was one of those afternoons you just remember vividly. Rihanna, the actual signer Rihanna, performed as the halftime entertainment. She was 18 and early in her career. The crowd at the game was a little chilly but lively. Missouri took a 31-21 lead on a Tony Temple touchdown run, and a 38-24 lead on a Chase Daniel to Chase Coffman touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. But the Beavers kept gnawing away at the lead, trimming it to 38-31 and then scoring another touchdown with 23 seconds left to make it 38-37. Oregon State coach Mike Riley went for two and the win. Yvenson Bernard barreled into the end zone, and the Beavers won 39-38.
Our charter buses got caught in a snowstorm on the way back, so we had to make an unplanned overnight stay in an old hotel in Roswell, New Mexico. It was that kind of trip, but it was quite memorable, like the 2006 Missouri season.
2006: 13 years ago, tied for 2nd in the Big 12 North
Record: 8-5, 4-4 in Big 12