The year is 2006, and you and your compatriots are rolling up I-55 toward St. Louis probably talking about the soon to be released Zune.
It’s a long drive, and you’ve clearly run out of things to talk about.
Ole Miss had just kicked off its 2006 season with a win over Memphis 28-25, and spirits were probably high that Ed Orgeron’s second year at the helm was going to be a vast improvement from the 3-8 tragedy of the 2005 season. I mean, come on, we’re talking about Brent Schaeffer at quarterback, BenJarvus Green-Ellis at running back, senior linebacker Patrick Willis and probably one of the most heralded recruiting classes in many years — WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
This trip to Columbia, Mo. would not end well though I got to enjoy some Shakespeare’s Pizza, which was pretty dadgum good. Shout out to Shakespeare’s, it’s been there since like George Washington crossed the Delaware maybe.
But the 2006 match of the Tigers and Rebels was the last time Ole Miss traveled to Columbia in this storied rivalry of seven (!!) games. On this day, the Tigers won by a 34-7 final behind the play of a then swift-footed QB Chase Daniel.
I vividly remember thinking Missouri didn’t know what it was going to be in for playing against an SEC squad before kickoff. The students I saw all were wearing denim and jerseys and looked like they were headed to a high school game and my elitist Ole Miss spidey senses were off the charts. “Who are these rogue black and gold masses we are playing? Don’t they have a shift at 7-11 to get to?”
The attendance was a respectable 51,112, and it clearly got to our beleaguered Schaeffer who had probably one of his worst games ever going 13-29 passing for 90 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He was still immortalized in song form for all of eternity though, so he has that going for him.
For me, the wake up call came early as Missouri dominated the first quarter only allowing Ole Miss to seven yards of offense. That’s not a typo. SEVEN. YARDS. TOTAL. Meanwhile, Mizzou racked up nearly 170 yards offensively building a 10-0 lead.
But somehow my naivete allowed me hope as the Rebels cut into a 17-0 lead with a Marshay Green touchdown in the second quarter and went into the half only down ten. “Surely, they’ve got some adjustments offensively, and if the defense can just get another turnover or two, we’ll be fine.”
Boy, was I dumb.
The second half started out with a quick Missouri drive, and the Tigers had in its back-ups by the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead late. You see, their coaches weren’t worried about a dramatic fourth quarter comeback! Because things were not going well at all!
That 2006 Missouri team went on to an 8-5 final record under Gary Pinkel losing by one point in the Sun Bowl to Oregon State. The 2006 Rebels did not fare quite as well finishing 4-8 including four losses by less than a touchdown to No. 7 Auburn, No. 9 LSU, No. 10 Georgia, and Alabama.