September 02, 2014

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and quarterback Maty Mauk want a cleaner performance after an admittedly inconsistent season opener.

They may have a little extra incentive for that to happen this week.

Pinkel will face his former school for the second straight year, and Mauk will make his return to his home state Saturday when the 24th-ranked Tigers take on Toledo.

Mauk led Missouri (1-0) to a touchdown just 50 seconds into last Saturday's game against FCS opponent South Dakota State, but the Tigers led by just three points early in the third quarter. Marcus Murphy's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the third quarter triggered a game-breaking rally as the Tigers scored the final 17 points in their 38-18 win.

Missouri's performance, though, was also not as crisp as it would like, and Pinkel pointed specifically to his offense's performance on third downs. The Tigers converted just 3 of 11 chances and left their defense on the field longer than he would have liked - allowing the Jackrabbits more than 35 minutes of possession.

"Offensively we had trouble converting on third downs. On defense we had trouble getting off the field. A combination of both, that's not very good. We had to battle back and forth, and certainly hopeful we can learn and become a better football team," Pinkel said.

On the positive side, the Tigers forced three turnovers, extending their NCAA-best streak of forcing at least one to 45 games. Russell Hansbrough ran for 126 yards and a touchdown in his first career start.

"We came out fast and that showed. We scored in a minute and came down and scored after that. We just had a lot of inconsistency we have to clean up and that is stuff we can fix," said Mauk, who was 13 of 21 for 178 yards and three touchdowns.

Mauk left Kenton, Ohio, as the nation's all-time leading high school passer and started four games during the Tigers' 12-2 campaign in 2013 in place of the injured James Franklin. Pinkel, a native of Akron, remains the all-time winningest coach at Toledo after going 73-37-3 from 1991-2000 before heading to Missouri.

"I'm really excited. I'm ready to get back to Ohio and play a game," Mauk said. "I know we're ready. We're going to have a great week of practice and we will not be taking anybody lightly and we'll be ready to play."

Pinkel's former school put up a fight in last season's meeting, a 38-23 loss Sept. 7 in Columbia, and the first matchup between the schools. The Tigers led 24-23 until the final seconds of the third quarter and shut out the Rockets in the final period.

Toledo outgained Missouri 387-384 and didn't give up a sack to a defensive line that included NFL second-round draft pick Kony Ealy and SEC co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam. The Rockets (1-0) return all but one starter from that offensive line, which allowed an FBS-low six sacks.

Toledo didn't give up any sacks in this season's opener, a 54-20 win over FCS school New Hampshire last Saturday, and Alabama transfer Phillip Ely passed for 337 yards and four touchdowns while overcoming an early deficit.

The Rockets trailed 14-3 before Ely's first TD pass with 5:48 remaining in the first half and outscored the Wildcats 38-6 in the second half.

Toledo, seeking its 500th win in program history, has dropped 10 of its last 11 against AP Top 25 teams.

"We should look forward to the challenge. It will be a great environment on Saturday," coach Matt Campbell said.

The Rockets beat No. 21 Cincinnati 29-23 at home Oct. 20, 2012, for their most recent win over a ranked team, and that upset came in Campbell's first full season. They've lost in three of the last four home games against AP Top 25 teams.

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