COLUMBIA, Mo - Back in 1911, Missouri athletic director Chester L. Brewer had an idea. Missouri was preparing for a football game against rival Kansas, and to make it special, Brewer invited alumni to come home and support their alma mater. He also planned a parade and spirit rally as part of the welcome celebration. With that, the idea of Homecoming on college campuses was born.
Missouri hosted the Colorado Buffaloes Saturday for the 96th homecoming game in school history. Heading into Saturday, Missouri had won three straight homecoming games, most recently last year's 41-10 blowout of Texas Tech. If Missouri's recent homecoming history is any indication, the annual tradition couldn't have come at a better time. "We stressed all week fans are coming back, alumni who played here (are coming), it's a big deal for us it's a big deal to them for us to get a win here," Missouri linebacker Brock Christopher said. Yes, for the Missouri Tigers, a win was a big deal Saturday against the visiting Buffaloes to get their season of high expectations back on track. Three weeks ago Missouri was looking nowhere but up. The undefeated Tigers were ranked third in the Associated Press poll, and coming off a 52-17 route of Nebraska on the road, thoughts of a national championship started creeping into people's minds in Columbia. Fast-forward to Saturday. Heading into the game, the Tigers sat ranked 15 th in the season's first BCS poll after back-to-back losses to Big XII South foes Oklahoma State and top-ranked Texas.
"When you lose a couple games, your confidence level goes down a bit, your swagger goes down a bit, so the rest of the week we were very demanding attention to detail on everything," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said of his team's week of practice. "But we were very positive about building our players up confidence-wise."
And it didn't take long Saturday for that confidence to show. After a great opening kick-return by wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Missouri marched down the field in 4 plays, going 54 yards for the score. During Colorado's next possession, punter Matt DiLallo dropped the snap on 4 th down and Missouri recovered on the Buffaloes' 1 yard-line. One Derrick Washington run later and the Tigers led 14-0, only 4 minutes into the game. Missouri never looked back, trouncing Colorado for a 58-0 rout. Missouri's defense, which has faced skepticism all season long, handed the Buffaloes their first shutout since 1988.
"A lot of guys had been talking about it. I think tonight was just a night, being Homecoming, guys wanted to get that shut out for Homecoming, and just trying to turn our season around," linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said after the game.
And while the win meant volumes to the players, the tradition of homecoming extends beyond the gridiron. "Alumni coming back, watching their team play, it's a big game, a big thing, got the parade in the morning, all that type of stuffIt's a good day to be a Tiger," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said.
With Missouri's 58-0 defeat of Colorado, the Tigers have won four consecutive homecoming games. When Chester Brewer came up with the idea of homecoming in 1911, he probably didn't know the idea would spread in popularity to the extent it did. One thing is certain, though. With the Tiger's recent homecoming success, people in Columbia sure are thankful for Chester Brewer.
Brendan Marks is a Journalism student at the University of Missouri