COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri's once-commanding 24-point lead
had been whittled to eight when coach Gary Pinkel took a risk and
put the game in Brad Smith's hands.
Maybe it wasn't such a big gamble after all.
Smith's 56-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 late in the game
was the decisive score that helped the Tigers beat Baylor 31-16
Saturday and become bowl eligible for the second time in three
"They went beyond making me look good," Pinkel said. "I just
wanted a first down."
Smith gave Missouri a lot more with two more touchdown runs,
including another 56-yarder, and 161 yards on 21 carries. All he
wanted on the key play with 6:04 to go was a first down, too.
"I just wanted to stretch the line out and then try to cut it
up and try to get the 1 yard," Smith said. "They did such a great
job of blocking, I just kept running."
Marcus King had an interception return for another score, and
Tony Temple ran for 100 yards in his first career start for the
Tigers (6-4, 4-3 Big 12), who succeeded in their third attempt to
qualify for a bowl.
Missouri missed out last year with a 5-6 record.
"You want to go to bowls every year, that's the way it is,"
Pinkel said. "If you do that consistently, then your program will
become a football program respected around the country."
Smith was bottled up in a pair of losses at Kansas and Colorado,
in which Missouri was outscored by a combined score of 54-15,
before breaking loose on a senior day that began with Pinkel
hugging each of the departing players before they ran out on the
"It was so important for me to be hugging those guys in the
locker room after the game," Pinkel said. "I was not doing real
well when we did the introductions."
Smith, who set school career records for points and rushing
touchdowns to give him 19 marks in all, became the first player in
NCAA history to pass for 8,000 yards and rush for 4,000. Last week
Colorado held him to only 16 yards on 13 carries, but he didn't
allow that game to fester.
"Magic, man," Missouri linebacker Derrick Ming said. "He just
surprises everybody at all times. You move your head for one
second, and you'll miss out on something."
Baylor (4-6, 1-6) rallied in the second half behind backup
quarterback Shawn Bell, who threw a pair of touchdown passes and
led the Bears to their first scores in three games following
shutout losses against Texas and Texas Tech. Bell's 16-yard pass to
Carl Sims with 8:06 left cut the gap to eight, and he drove the
Bears to the Missouri 4-yard line in the final seconds.
Bell has been the starter most of the season but the last two
games has been behind sophomore Terrance Parks.
"I know what I can do, and I think I proved it somewhat
today," Bell said. "To be honest, I've been proving it all
Coach Guy Morriss said Bell probably will get his job back next
week against Oklahoma State.
"Well, I guess my gut would say start Shawn," Morriss said.
"We'll look at the tapes and see what the trouble was. It upsets
me that we can't get anything going earlier than we did."
Baylor's only first-half highlight was Daniel Sepulveda's
career-best 78-yard punt. It's the 13th punt of 60 or more yards
for the left-footed junior, the Ray Guy award winner last year.
Smith scored on runs of 2 and 56 yards in the second quarter to
help Missouri build a 21-0 lead. He has 260 career points, breaking
the school mark of 252 set by running back Zack Abron (2000-03).
King intercepted an underthrown sideline pass by Parks and
returned it untouched 32 yards for the game's first score in the
first quarter. Missouri has four defensive touchdowns this season,
all coming in the last five weeks.
Missouri is 6-0 against Baylor since the inception of the Big