Missouri's takeaway streak ends in loss to Indiana

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By ALEX SCHIFFER
College Contributor Network

Streak.

The noun is defined as "a continuous period of specified success."

The key word in the definition is continuous, which hints that in order for something to be considered a streak, it has to be ongoing.

Missouri's nationally recognized turnover streak of 47 games ended on Saturday in the team's 31-27 loss to Indiana.

Despite holding the Hoosiers to just one of 14 third down conversions, the program's storied period, in which they forced a takeaway from the opposing teams, ended Saturday in a game in which the Tigers were favored by double-digits.

"They (Indiana) did the things necessary to win and I thought they played a good game," Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel said. "We battled and had a chance to win it at the end and unfortunately we didn't get it done."

The streak started during the Tigers' 2010 season, back when they were in the Big 12, and carried all the way through into their move to the Southeastern Conference -- spanning the course of five seasons. The streak became something synonymous with the Tiger name and shone brightest at times when the team badly needed a big play. During some of Missouri's biggest do-or-die moments, a turnover is what ended up changing the Tigers' odds during some of their bigger games.

Michael Sam's sack-and-strip in the final moments of last year's Cotton Bowl to give the Tigers the title and, more recently, sophomore defensive tackle Josh Augusta's eye-popping interception against UCF are two moments that fans constantly refer to when discussing the streak.

Junior defensive end Shane Ray tried to put the streak in perspective after Saturday's loss saying takeaways are something the defense prides themselves on and bases the game plan around.

"It's just something that we live by and preach each game, to try and get a takeaway," Ray said. "Today we weren't able to get the ball back and you can tell the difference. That's a momentum-changer play and we just need to get back to doing what we do."

While coach Gary Pinkel made no excuses for the team's upset loss to the Hoosiers, the Tigers were without star defensive lineman Markus Golden, who tweaked a hamstring on Wednesday and was unable to play.

The void on the D-line was filled by redshirt freshman Charles Harris who played respectably, but his lack of experience gave the Hoosiers more success when they ran the ball his way instead of Ray's.

"He's a leader," sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer said of the injured team leader. "He's one of the best defensive ends in the country. Not to say the kids that stepped in today didn't do a great job, because they did. It's tough to lose a guy like that."

Harris, who made his first career start in place of Golden, finished the game with four tackles, one for a loss and his first career collegiate sack. Ray was impressed with the way the redshirt freshman played and is pleased with the way he's improved this season.

"He gained some good experience today, made some good plays," Ray said. "It's good to see he's progressing."

Start.

As a verb, the word is defined as "the beginning of something."

Next week, on a national stage at South Carolina, the Tigers will have a chance to start another turnover streak with Golden likely back in the lineup.

And if they do, who knows when it will end this time.


Alex Schiffer is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Missouri and hails from Westfield, New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter: @TheSchiffMan
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