1981 MSU vs. Missouri: Not much offense on that day in Jackson


The history of Mississippi State and the University of Missouri as football rivals is a rather short one.  When the two teams square off Thursday night at 8 pm in Columbia, not only will it be the first SEC football game between the two schools, but it will mark just the third time in history they have met on the gridiron.

The two previous meetings occurred in the 1980s and the Tigers prevailed in both games.  The subject of today’s article is the first-ever game in the series, played on October 3, 1981 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

The Bulldogs entered the game at 3-0, sporting a #9 ranking and fresh off a 28-7 spanking of Florida the previous week.  It was the second consecutive TV appearance for State, which was quite a big deal during that era.

Missouri, also 3-0, was ranked #17, but a soft early season schedule had many questioning whether the Tigers were deserved that ranking.  But Mizzou silenced the doubters that day with a stellar performance on both sides of the ball.

State used a 42 yard field goal by Dana Moore on its opening drive to grab an early 3-0 lead.  But the offense was nonexistent for the Bulldogs the remainder of the game.  Missouri shut down the Bulldogs’ outside wishbone running game, and forced the Bulldogs to throw the ball, which they did rather unsuccessfully.

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For the game, State could only manage 237 yards of total offense.  So bad was the offense on that day that in his column the following day, long-time Jackson Daily News sports editor, the late Orley Hood, termed it the “NO-FFENSE”.

Missouri scored a first quarter touchdown on a 4 yard run, following a long pass play that should have been intercepted, but was misplayed by the MSU cornerback.  And despite the fact that the Bulldogs controlled field position for almost the entire second half, Mizzou managed to patch together a 72 yard drive that culminated in a touchdown in the game’s final minute, securing a 14-3 win for the Tigers.

Both teams would finish the season 8-4, including wins in postseason bowl games. The Bulldogs topped Kansas 10-0 in the Hall of Fame Bowl, while the Tigers slipped past Southern Mississippi 19-17 in the Tangerine Bowl.