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No. 16 Missouri – The Origins of Homecoming

// Oct 18 - 1980

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October 18th – at Missouri             No.16 Missouri 45, Colorado 7

When the Buffs made their way to Columbia, Missouri, for their first game after the Drake debacle, the Missouri Tigers were well on their way to their third of four straight bowl appearances in the 1978-81 era.  Missouri came into the game with a 4-1 mark, and played with the confidence of a winning program, easily taking out the Buffs, 45-7.

Missouri was led by senior quarterback Phil Bradley and future NFL Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, and the Tigers completely dominated the Buffs from the opening kickoff.

The game meant something to the ranked Tigers, and meant little to the bumbling Buffs, and each team played according to form.  The Buffs set a record for futility in the longtime series between the two teams, “amassing” a total of only 129 yards of total offense.  Colorado did forge a 7-7 tie after scoring on a six-yard run by Lance Olander (who finished with 83 yards on 17 carries).  After that, though, the game was not in doubt.  The Tigers ran out to a 21-7 halftime advantage, and rolled to a convincing win.

Colorado was now 0-6, with little hope for victory on the horizon.

Up next was a date with 9th-ranked Nebraska.

Homecoming

“The Homecoming” is one of the most enduring portraits by Norman Rockwell.  At the end of World War II, Rockwell put to canvas the emotion felt by the family of a returning soldier.  From the apron-clad mother with arms outstretched to hug her returning son, to the shy, but now matured, girlfriend standing quietly (for the moment) in the background, Rockwell expressed the joy of a war-weary nation in having their sons return.  It is a classic painting by an American classic.

To football fans, though, homecoming means something different.  Alumni return to campus. There are parades, homecoming “royalty”, and, above all, a guaranteed win for the home team.  When making the football schedules for upcoming seasons, schools have been known to schedule “homecoming” games the week after playing a home game, just to ensure that the homecoming crowd goes home happy.

It should have come as no surprise, then, that Colorado was chosen by Missouri to be its Homecoming opponent.  In fact, 72,333 fans, Missouri’s largest homecoming crowd ever, and fifth-largest crowd at Faurot Field history to that time, came to watch the Tigers manhandle the Buffs.

Missouri, along with many other Big Eight teams in the early 1980’s, knew which opponent represented the easiest homecoming foe.

Game Notes –

– Missouri has laid claim to be the school which originated “Homecoming”. The story goes that in 1911, director of athletics Chester L. Brewer asked alumni and former players to “come home” for the season-ending rivalry game against Kansas. While a tradition was born, it did not help the Tigers in 1911. Missouri was tied by Kansas, 3-3, finishing the season with a 2-4-2 record.

– Missouri would go on to post an 8-3 regular season record in 1980, with a 5-2 record in Big Eight play. The Tigers were invited to play Purdue in the Liberty Bowl, falling to the Boilermakers, 28-25, to finish the 1980 season with an 8-4 record.

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