Missouri 37


Illinois 9


Coverage: ESPN

3:40 PM ET, September 5, 2009

1 2 3 4 T
MIZZ 10 6 14 737
ILL 0 3 0 69

Top Performers

Passing: B. Gabbert (MIZZ) - 319 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: B. Gabbert (MIZZ) - 10 CAR, 39 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Alexander (MIZZ) - 10 REC, 132 YDS

Gabbert tosses 3 TDs, runs for one as Mizzou controls Illinois

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Blaine Gabbert threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in a stellar starting debut to lead rebuilding Missouri to a 37-9 victory over Illinois on Saturday, its fifth win in a row in the neutral-site series.

Juice Williams was held in check and failed to convert a crucial fourth-down play for Illinois, which just missed cracking the preseason Top 25 but flopped despite an offense with eight returning starters. The Fighting Illini were 5-7 last year but had been a touchdown favorite against a program replacing 23 seniors, including quarterback Chase Daniel and a pair of NFL first-round draft picks.

Filling The Void

Blaine Gabbert stepped into the void left by Chase Daniel by throwing for 319 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers beat Illinois for the fifth straight time. Gabbert had the best season-opening performance under Gary Pinkel.

Missouri QB in Season Opener
Under Gary Pinkel
Total yds/TD
'09 Blaine Gabbert Illinois 358/4
'06 Chase Daniel Murray St. 293/5
'02 Brad Smith Illinois 290/1

Missouri won its eighth straight opener without most of the key skill players from an offense that helped produce 22 victories the past two seasons. Gabbert, a sophomore shining in his hometown after appearing in three games last season as Daniel's understudy, was 25-for-33 and added 39 yards on 10 carries for an offense that had no turnovers.

Gabbert had three first-down runs before bulling into the end zone on an 8-yard carry in the fourth quarter

The Tigers led 16-3 at the half and pulled away with touchdowns on two of their first three possessions after the break. Danario Alexander had 10 receptions for 132 yards, including two catches for 59 yards, on the opening drive of the third quarter, and Jared Perry caught a 46-yard touchdown pass in the third for a 30-3 lead.

Williams was 18 for 28 for 179 yards with an interception and was sacked three times. Last year, Williams passed for 451 yards and five touchdowns and set an Edward Jones Dome record with 461 yards of total offense.

Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn and running back Jason Ford missed the second half with ankle injuries. Daniel Dufrene, the starter at running back, dressed but did not play due to an ankle injury.

Gabbert was 7 for 8 for 106 yards in the first quarter, leading Missouri to a 10-0 lead after two possessions while Illinois opened with two punts. The big play of the half was a 49-yard scoring pass to Wes Kemp, a sophomore also making his first career start, and the Tigers added field goals of 32, 44 and 41 yards from new kicker Grant Ressel.

Trailing 13-3 late in the second quarter, Illinois failed to capitalize on a roughing the punter call when Williams stumbled just after taking the snap on 4th-and-1 at the Missouri 20. Williams appeared to get his legs tangled with guard Randall Hunt and fell backward for a 4-yard loss.

Missouri has won 11 straight non-conference games, the longest streak in school history, since a home loss to New Mexico in 2005.


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2118
Total Yards442325
3rd Down Conversions9-176-16
4th Down Conversions1-10-2

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

FG07:23Grant Ressel 32 Yd 30
TD03:02Wes Kemp 49 Yd Pass From Blaine Gabbert (Grant Ressel Kick) 100
FG13:40Matt Eller 24 Yd 103
FG08:36Grant Ressel 44 Yd 133
FG00:06Grant Ressel 41 Yd 163
TD11:18Jerrell Jackson 4 Yd Pass From Blaine Gabbert (Grant Ressel Kick) 233
TD05:39Jared Perry 46 Yd Pass From Blaine Gabbert (Grant Ressel Kick) 303
TD13:19Mikel LeShoure 1 Yd Run (Pat Failed) 309
TD08:48Blaine Gabbert 8 Yd Run (Grant Ressel Kick) 379