January 1, 2008

Temple carries Mizzou to Cotton Bowl victory

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DALLAS — Hey, BCS: Still think Missouri isn't good enough?

The guys from the "Show-Me State" made their case for having deserved a chance in one of the elite bowl games, routing Darren McFadden and Arkansas 38-7 Tuesday in the Cotton Bowl to cap a magical season with quite an exclamation point.

The biggest surprise is that the emphasis came from running back Tony Temple, not quarterback Chase Daniel, a Heisman Trophy finalist like McFadden.

Temple, a 5-foot-9 senior who is often overlooked in Missouri's pass-heavy offense, broke longstanding Cotton Bowl records with 281 yards and four touchdowns. Both records fell on his last run, a spinning, tackle-breaking, 40-yarder into the end zone.

Daniel and a lineman celebrated by carrying Temple back to the sideline, adding to the delight of a black-and-gold throng enjoying the program's first New Year's Day game since 1970.

Mizzou (12-2) was ranked No. 1 after beating Kansas in the regular season finale, then lost badly to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game - so badly that the Jayhawks wound up with an at-large berth into the Orange Bowl.

The seventh-ranked Tigers claimed to have gotten over the snub, hyping Dallas as a great destination for recruiting and because it's home to their second-largest alumni base. Still, their performance suggested a team with something to prove.

Arkansas, meanwhile, played like a team ready to move on to next season.

The No. 25 Razorbacks (8-5) made a horrible first impression on incoming coach Bobby Petrino, from the defense allowing the most yards rushing by a single player to the sloppiness of five turnovers - an interception that was returned for a touchdown and four fumbles, one by a defensive lineman and another by a punt returner who tried catching the ball with his back to the play while inside his 10 yard line.

The final offensive play summed things up: Interim coach Reggie Herring ran about 20 yards trying to get officials to let him call timeout, but they didn't acknowledge it and a fourth-down pass was dropped in the end zone.

Teams with interim coaches are now 0-5 this bowl season, with West Virginia left to go. SEC teams had been 5-0 until Arkansas' loss.

McFadden ran 21 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, pushing his single-season total to 1,830 yards and his career total to 4,590, but didn't play the fourth quarter. Both totals are school records and second to Herschel Walker in SEC history.

At least the Hogs looked good. They wore all-red uniforms for the first time, a tribute to outgoing program icon Frank Broyles.

Daniel was 12-of-29 for 136 yards with an interception. It was his fewest yards of the season and his second straight game without a touchdown pass.

Then again, the way Temple was running, the Tigers didn't need to throw it.

He had 159 yards and two touchdowns at halftime, having broken off runs of 41 yards, 38 and three that went 22. His first TD went 22 yards and his next two each covered 4 yards.

He was at 241 when he spent several series on the sideline, apparently slowed by dehydration. He returned for only one more carry, the 40-yard touchdown that put him into the record books.

Temple broke the Cotton Bowl rushing record of 265 yards set by Rice's Dicky Maegle in 1954, a performance that's best remembered for him being awarded a touchdown when Alabama's Tommy Lewis came off the bench and tackled him on a breakaway run.

Maegle had three touchdowns in that game, as did Texas' Bobby Layne in 1946 and Syracuse's Jim Brown in 1957.

Missouri's solid defensive performance was anchored by safety William Moore, who pried a fumble by Arkansas' Felix Jones at the end of a 41-yard play when the game was still close in the third quarter and returned an interception for the touchdown that made it 28-0. It was his eighth interception of the year, setting a school record.

Broyles led Arkansas fans in spirited chants of "Pig! Sooie!" prior to kickoff, but that turned out to be one of the few things the folks in red had to cheer all afternoon.

Freshman kicker Alex Tejada came in 12-of-12 on kicks of 40 yards or less, but missed badly from 36 on the game-opening drive and later from 37. In between, a successful fake punt was wiped out because someone called timeout just before the snap; the Razorbacks tried the play again and lost a yard. Then a squib kick to open the second half backfired, resulting in Missouri starting in Arkansas territory.

In the fourth quarter, Petrino said on television he was here "strictly as a spectator," adding that he would announce his coaching staff on Thursday. Herring isn't likely to be on it, as Mississippi State already has announced that its defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, is taking the same post at Arkansas.

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