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Local History

Bears vs Tigers

In college towns across America, tailgating, passionate fans, and intense rivalries are as much a sign of fall as the changing leaves and small town festivals. On those special Saturdays, few sporting events can match the excitement of college football. That enthusiasm will be especially high for fans across the “Show-Me State” on September 2, when the University of Missouri Tigers face off against the Missouri State Bears for the first time since 1923.  Adding to the intrigue, Bears coach Dave Steckel returns to Columbia for the first time since accepting the Missouri State job three years ago.  Steckel was a longtime defensive coordinator for the Tigers.  

The Bears will visit Columbia as the underdogs, just as they were on October 6, 1923.  Even the most passionate fans of what was then Southwest Missouri State Teachers College, were worried how the Bears would contain the Tigers powerful offense. About 150 Springfield fans traveled with the team to watch what turned out to be a low scoring game. Bears quarterback Max Cherry and halfback Walter Reynaud moved the ball by exploiting the edges of the Tigers defense.  While this put the Bears in scoring position many times, size prevailed over speed. The larger Tigers successfully made several goal line stands, but, the Springfield Leader reported, “it was a gallant attempt and the results were more than gratifying.”

The Tigers won 10-0, with all of their points coming in the third quarter.  Although disappointed by the loss, Springfield played well in its first game against a university team.  The Teachers College yearbook, the Ozarko, declared it was the greatest day in their football history, and “the students and residents of Columbia deserve great praise for the courteous and friendly greetings extended to the Springfield delegation.”     

The long awaited rematch will kickoff at 11 a.m. on September 2, in Faurot Field on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.  

The photos are taken from the 1923 and 1924 Ozarko yearbook.

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