Nearly three years ago, on November 6, 2010, the Missouri Tigers lost to the Texas Tech Red Raiders 24-17. Why do we care about a game that took place nearly three years ago? Well, in the first quarter, Bren Donaldson forced a fumble that was recovered by Andrew Gachkar. Once again, why do we care about a turnover that happened nearly three years ago? That game against Texas Tech was the beginning of a nearly three year long streak, and counting. The Missouri Tigers have forced a turnover in an FBS leading 35 consecutive games.
The last time the Mizzou defense didn’t force a turnover was October 30, 2010, against Nebraska. In that game, Roy Helu, Jr. rushed for a massive 307 yards on only 28 carries, and three TDs. In that game, the Cornhuskers only threw 12 passes, because the Missouri defense just could not stop Roy Helu, Jr. Who knew at that point, when the defense played so bad, that the Missouri Tigers would force a turnover in every game until at least 2013.
This incredible streak that Mizzou is on, just gets even better when you think about the caliber of opponent that these turnovers have come from. The Tigers forced turnovers last year from the high powered offenses of Texas A&M, Georgia, and even the National Champion Alabama.
Just this season, Missouri has forced 11 turnovers in only 5 games. Just before halftime against Indiana, with the score 21-14 in favor of the Tigers, the Hoosiers were seemingly driving the ball down the field at will. Every receiver was being hit, the backs were finding holes, and all the momentum was with the Indiana offense. At about midfield, though, the tides turned. The Tigers extended their streak to, at that point, 33 games. Kony Ealy, a Mizzou defensive lineman, jumped up to bat the ball down, and then… he caught it! Ealy reacted quickly and ran toward the endzone for a pick six. The Tigers then had a 28-14 lead heading into halftime, and the wind had been taken out of Indiana’s sails.
No one knows how long this streak will last, but if the defense can keep it up this season, Missouri can be a huge player in the SEC East this year. With a banged up Georgia team next week, the Tigers will look to capitalize on the mistakes of young players to try to steal a win in Athens, Georgia. After losing their first ever SEC game, at home even, to Georgia, the Tigers will be looking for revenge, and chances are, they will do it on the defensive side of the ball.