Unbeaten MU breaks into Top 25

Monday, September 25, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- There appears to be little danger of Missouri getting carried away with a rare 4-0 start and its first ranking in two years.

Minutes after the Tigers' 31-6 victory over Ohio on Saturday, coach Gary Pinkel was dissecting the problems his team overcame that would be a lot more troublesome when the Big 12 schedule starts next week.

"My expectation level is real high," Pinkel said. "I've already made a list of 13 things we need to do to become a better team."

For only the second time in his six seasons at Missouri and only the fifth time since the Roaring Twenties, the Tigers avoided stumbling in nonconference play. They won the games they were supposed to win, also beating Division I-AA Murray State, Mississippi and New Mexico.

And on Sunday, they appeared in the rankings for the first time since Sept. 5, 2004, entering The Associated Press poll at No. 25.

No one seems satisfied, especially after committing three turnovers and getting whistled for a season-high nine penalties for 77 yards. There's also recent history to keep them humble: in 2003 the Tigers began the year 4-0, then lost five of nine and had to settle for an Independence Bowl berth.

Quarterback Chase Daniel was responsible for two of the three turnovers.

Daniel knows he'll need to minimize the valleys Saturday in the conference opener against Colorado. The Buffaloes are winless, but nearly upset No. 9 Georgia on Saturday in a 14-13 loss.

"We looked way too sloppy for the fourth game and Colorado gave Georgia all it wanted, and Georgia is a great team," Daniel said. "We've just got to go out there and focus on the next game."

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