COLUMBIA, Mo. – Blaine Gabbert hid a hip pointer from Missouri coaches as long as he could, finally giving up at the start of the fourth quarter with an injury that he insists is not serious.
No. 24 Missouri did more than enough long before losing their quarterback, capitalizing on several big plays on special teams and a defense that had four sacks without their top pass rusher in a 26-0 victory over Colorado in a Big 12 opener on Saturday night. It also was the final conference meeting before the Buffaloes join the Pac-10 next year.
"We'd love to play them again," cornerback Kevin Rutland said. "But today was a great parting gift."
Gabbert had his midsection wrapped as he stood on the sideline in the fourth quarter. He said he'd be ready for next week at Texas A&M.
"I feel great," he said. "Oh yeah, I'll see you guys next week in College Station."
Gabbert was 17 for 29 for 191 yards and two touchdown passes, but was only 2 for 6 for 10 yards in the third quarter. Coach Gary Pinkel said Gabbert was hurt when hit on both sides at the start of the third quarter, and wasn't ready to project Gabbert's availability for next week at Texas A&M.
"He could hardly breath. He's a tough guy, tough, tough guy," coach Gary Pinkel said.
The Tigers (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) had four sacks and an interception in their fifth straight victory over Colorado (3-2, 0-1) by a total score of 203-40. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden had a sack among his two tackles for loss and deflected a pass to lead the charge.
This one came just a few days after the 20th anniversary of the infamous Fifth Down game in 1990, which helped the Buffaloes win their only national championship.
Not that Missouri made that long ago injustice a rallying cry.
"Most of our players weren't alive," Pinkel said. "It's a very historic play but this was this year. We wanted to win our first conference game at home."
Missouri struggled most of the game offensively other than a 97-yard, 15-play drive capped by Gabbert's 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Egnew near the end of the half. Those woes were masked by a blocked field goal, blocked punt, fake punt and safety in the school's first shutout since blanking the Buffaloes 58-0 Oct. 25, 2008 at home.
"We've had our ups and downs," said wide receiver T.J. Moe, who had seven receptions for 85 yards. "But we could be playing the Green Bay Packers or my high school team, we're still going to come out and fight until the end."
Punter Trey Barrow's 26-yard run on a fake was enough to lead Missouri until backup quarterback James Franklin passed him in the fourth quarter, finishing with 37 yards on four carries and throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Egnew.
Missouri was held to a season-low 116 yards rushing overall with tailbacks De'Vion Moore, Marcus Murphy, Henry Josey and Kendial Lawrence totaling 51 yards on 18 carries.
Rodney Stewart had 91 yards on 18 carries for Colorado, but quarterback Tyler Hansen was yanked near the end of the third quarter. The Buffaloes advanced to the Missouri 18 with backup Cody Hawkins before running out of downs near the end of the game.
Coach Dan Hawkins said Hansen would be his starter next week at home against Baylor. Colorado had been seeking its first three-game winning streak since the start of the 2008 season.
"I don't think it was so much of what Tyler was not doing, just trying to get something going a little bit," Hawkins said. "A little spark to get something going."
Penalties helped to doom two fourth down chances in Missouri territory for Colorado, which has been outscored 78-7 in two road games this season.
"It's so funny that everybody talks about the road," Cody Hawkins said. "We made Missouri look a lot better than they were."
Colorado trailed 19-0 at the half, and was outscored 86-3 the first half the last three years in the series.
Barrow and Matt Grabner had punts downed at the 2 and 1 in the first half. Eric Waters partially deflected a punt in the first half and pressure by Luke Lambert on the pass rush forced Hansen's intentional grounding call for the safety. Terrell Resonna blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.