Mizzou football started the new year with a bang, running over Minnesota 33-17 to win the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. New Year’s Day marked the end of several Tigers’ time at Mizzou. Fortunately, they saved their best for last.
Senior defensive end Markus Golden, the bowl game’s MVP, was unstoppable as he racked up four tackles for a loss and one and a half sacks. He finished the season with 78 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
“It's a blessing just to be part of the Mizzou team, just to be out here playing,” Golden says. “But for me to get MVP, it's amazing. It's one of the big days of my life. Coming to Missouri is one of the best things that happened to me.”
Senior wideout Bud Sasser caught a team-leading seven passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. They were Maty Mauk’s only passing touchdowns, but the quarterback did truck his way to one of Mizzou’s most impressive rushing scores this season.
The Tigers also had their way on the ground, pounding out 337 yards on just 45 carries from several backs. Senior Marcus Murphy had a gaudy 13.1 yard-per-carry average, gaining 157 yards on just 12 carries. Junior Russell Hansbrough totaled 114 yards on 15 carries and scored a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Legacy of Leadership
“The leadership that these guys have brought this year to our team, I think, will certainly be great visual aids for our younger players and will pay dividends as time goes on,” coach Gary Pinkel says.
The game was also the finale for defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, on his way to become Missouri State’s head coach. His unit held Minnesota to just 16 points and the Gophers’ vaunted ground game to only 106 yards rushing. Coach Stec celebrated with his players in the locker room once the final whistle had sounded.
The win caps off Mizzou’s most successful two-year run ever. The Tigers have gone 23-5, winning two SEC East championships and both the Cotton Bowl and Citrus Bowl. In that time span, Mizzou has produced 11 All-SEC Players and two All-Americans.
Marching Mizzou starts to warm up before the Citrus Bowl. Photo by Nic Benner.
Jordan Reeves, 9, has her face painted at the official Mizzou Alumni Association tailgate. Photo by Nic Benner.
Sophomore Marching Mizzou member Tony Hodgson, of Hannibal, Missouri, gets into the music during a pregame performance. Photo by Nic Benner.
Marching Mizzou members leave the official Mizzou Alumni Association tailgate. Photo by Nic Benner.
Mizzou prepares to face off against Minnesota at Citrus Bowl Stadium. Photo by Shane Epping.
Cheerleaders lead Mizzou onto the field before kickoff. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou cheerleaders generate excitement on the field moments before kickoff. Photo by Nic Benner.
Players take a moment just before kickoff. Photo by Nic Benner.
Marcus Golden eyes the coin toss. Gophers won the toss and elected to kick. Photo by Shane Epping.
Minnesota wide receiver Brian Smith rolls out of bounds after a catch in the first half. Photo by Shane Epping.
Harold Brantley cradles the football after recovering a fumble in the first half. Photo by Nic Benner.
Missouri defensive lineman Marcus Golden causes a fumble. Golden was later named and Citrus Bowl MVP. Photo by Shane Epping.
The Tigers defense stacks up Minnesota running back David Cobb. Photo by Nic Benner.
Mizzou quarterback Maty Mauk busts through the Gopher defense for a touchdown in the second half. Photo by Nic Benner.
Maty Mauk reacts to his second-half touchdown. Photo by Nic Benner.
Missouri safety Braylon Webb recovers one of three fumbles by Minnesota in the game. Photo by Shane Epping.
Minnesota defensive back Cedric Thompson breaks up a pass intended for Mizzou tight end Jason Reese. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou running back Marcus Murphy is run out of bounds. Murphy ran for 157 yards in the game. Photo by Shane Epping.
Michael Scherer sacks Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner. Photo by Nic Benner.
Russell Hansbrough runs for a touchdown in the second half. Photo by Nic Benner.
Marcus Golden celebrates a sack. Photo by Nic Benner.
Tiger fans put gopher on the menu at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Photo by Shane Epping.
A couple of Tigers fans enjoy the game from high in the bleachers. Photo by Shane Epping.
Bud Sasser makes a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Photo by Nic Benner.
Gophers fans express their disappointment and Mizzou fans celebrate as the Tigers defense stops Minnesota on fourth down, winning the game for Mizzou. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel gets a Gatorade bath after winning his third consecutive post-season bowl game. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou quarterback Maty Mauk talks to reporters after the victory. Photo by Shane Epping.
The 2015 Citrus Bowl champion Mizzou Tigers celebrate their win. Photo by Nic Benner.
Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray attempts to juggle oranges during the Citrus Bowl trophy presentation. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin puts on his Citrus Bowl championship hat. Photo by Shane Epping.
Marcus Golden holds his MVP trophy following the win. Photo by Shane Epping.
Shane Ray is all smiles after the game. Photo by Shane Epping.
Dave Steckel embraces quarterback Maty Mauk following his final game as Mizzou defensive coordinator. Steckel has taken a job as head coach at Missouri State. Photo by Nic Benner.
Shane Ray kisses him mom, Sabrina Johnson, at the end of the game. Photo by Shane Epping.