No. 23 Missouri 38, Texas Tech 21

Sunday, October 8th 2006, 12:49 pm
By: News On 6

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Missouri's defense is for real.

The No. 23 Tigers' defense, which came into the game ranked No. 10 in the nation, set up most of the scoring in a 38-21 win over Texas Tech on Saturday night. But questions about the strength of Missouri's schedule had some wondering whether the defense had really been tested before playing Tech.

The answers came in four turnovers _ two interceptions and two fumbles _ by Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, which led to 28 points for Missouri.

``We all know what it's like to play that team, and the turnovers were the difference in the football game,'' Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. ``That's certainly something we tried to do.''

Chase Daniel threw for 171 yards and a touchdown, giving Missouri its first 6-0 start in 33 years.

Xzavie Jackson and William Moore scored on interception returns on consecutive Texas Tech possessions in the second quarter.

``I looked up and just felt it,'' Jackson said. ``Then I looked at the quarterback's eyes and he threw the ball. I just cut in there and the ball sort of stuck to my hand.''

Daniel, who returned to Texas where he played high school football in the Dallas area, really didn't have to do much. But his dual threat kept Tech's defense guessing. The Birthday Boy _ Daniel turned 20 on Saturday _ completed 15 of 22 passes, threw one interception and ran for 37 yards.

Daniel said the defense had talked all week about getting multiple turnovers.

``It's like coach talks about all the time: it's one thing to have ability, but you have to have capability,'' Daniel said. ``We got the ball and scored.''

Harrell, who came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in total offense and was the hero in last week's dramatic 31-27 win over Texas A&M, appeared flustered by the Tigers' blitz. Texas Tech coach Mike Leach even benched him for a series following the second of consecutive interceptions.

``The biggest thing I wanted to illustrate was how easy it was to make routine plays,'' Leach said. ``It was simple what they were doing defensively.''

Missouri (2-0 Big 12) got up 24-0 before Texas Tech (4-2, 1-1) crossed the 50. The Red Raiders scored two touchdowns before halftime and appeared to have momentum turned around. But Missouri stiffened and allowed only one score in the second half.

Harrell's second fumble came early in the second half gave the Tigers good field position at Tech's 44. Daniel threw a 36-yard pass to Will Franklin and Tony Temple ran 8 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Tigers their winning margin.

Harrell completed 39 of 55 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns.

Missouri's defense pressured Harrell early, forcing a fumble at the Red Raiders' 12 on the first play of Tech's second possession. DeMarcus Scott recovered the ball and four plays later Temple put Missouri up 10-0 on a 1-yard run.

Missouri's defense got better in the second quarter.

Jackson got the first Missouri defensive score on a screen pass over the middle by Harrell, and the defensive end lumbered 17 yards into the end zone untouched to give the Tigers a 17-0 lead.

Harrell's very next pass _ to Robert Johnson near the sideline _ was picked off by Moore, who scampered 22 yards to put Missouri up 24-0.

On Tech's next series, Harrell was replaced by backup quarterback Chris Todd, who got the Red Raiders across midfield for the first time in the game. But Harrell returned on the next possession to a sprinkling of boos from fans.

He silenced them quickly, though, completing 4-of-5 passes, including a 30-yard touchdown to whittle Tech's deficit to 24-7.

It was then Daniel's turn to make a first-down mistake. Tech cornerback Chris Parker intercepted Daniel's pass at the Tech 41, and Harrell led the Red Raiders down the field for a touchdown. He threw a 6-yard pass to Joel Filani with 1:27 remaining in the half to draw Tech to 24-14.