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THE TIGER CURSE ARCHIVES: Sportswriter recalls Mizzou football disasters

A chronicle of cursed blunders

 
COLUMBIA, Mo 10/30/13 (Beat Byte) -- A 17-0 lead that decayed into double overtime, a missed field goal, and a three point loss to South Carolina has some Mizzou fans pondering an old question:  Are the Tigers cursed?

"You'll forgive the old guard for entering this game with a sense of foreboding," wrote Yahoo! sports writer and Mizzou alum Pat Forde, just three days before the South Carolina upset.   "Missouri alums know that the critical error or fluke disaster is lurking out there somewhere, waiting to reintroduce itself at precisely the wrong time."
 
"Giddy times," "unbridled excitement," "euphoria."  Forde sees it all, and yet:  "Please understand the well-earned wariness from the elder Mizzou observers. We have seen too much."
 
Take the Fifth Down Flim-Flam of 1990:  Missouri vs. Colorado, a bad call, a last-minute touchdown, a big win for Colorado, and one for the record books.   USA Today and Ted Mandell, who wrote Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys called it "one of the top memorable blunders in college football history."

Exhibit B in Forde's Tiger curse archives is the Flea-Kicker Pass of '97.   Nebraska, the foe du jour, won the game "with a miracle catch" that led to a touchdown, overtime, and ultimately a national title for the Cornhuskers.  "Flea kicker" entered the sports lexicon and, like Fifth Down Flim-Flam, the Wikipedia hall of sports infamy.
 
"In college football, the Flea Kicker," Wikipedia explains, "was a legendary play executed by the Nebraska Cornhuskers against the Missouri Tigers on November 8, 1997 that sent the game into overtime..."
 
Talk about Tige-matic stress disorder!


The Flea-Kicker Pass
 
And it doesn't stop there. "Those are Mizzou's marquee misadventures, but the library of agony runs deeper than that," Forde explains, with prose flourishes that include "cornucopia of smaller catastrophes," and "you-must-be-kidding defeats."

"Brian Brooks, associate dean emeritus of the Missouri School of Journalism and a season-ticket holder since 1974, remembers a home game against Oklahoma in the 1970s when Tiger Leo Lewis made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.  Except Lewis was ruled out of bounds," Forde writes.

"But replays showed Lewis had not one but TWO feet in bounds," Brooks told him.   So the Tigers both won -- and lost -- that Oklahoma game.   What other team, long-time fans have long wondered, does this stuff happen to? 
 

The Fifth Down Flim-Flam

Forde chronicles The Shorthose Drop of 1984, where star Tiger George Shorthose became the hated "goat," and later earned a spot on the Ten Worst Names in Sports
 
The Burditt Botch of the same year saw kicker Brad Burditt's "foot collide with the turf way behind the ball."  Notre Dame won that game. 

"The Shorthose drop and Burditt botched field goal helped start the Plague Years of Missouri football: 13 straight losing seasons under four different coaches," Warren Powers, Woody Widenhofer, Bob Stull, and Larry Smith, Forde explains.
 
"Missouri has been cursed," Brian Brooks told him.  "I hope it doesn't happen again this year."
 
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