Columbia, Missouri may not be home to a real zoo with wild animals, but this Saturday it will be home to a different kind of zoo: “The Zou.”
Technically, Missouri’s Faurot Field has been nicknamed “The Zou” since 2003, but this year the athletic department has put a greater emphasis on getting that nickname more exposure. Just this week, “The Zou” was added to the each side of the stadium and it is boldly emblazoned on the back of the new scoreboard. Around campus it seems the name is slowly catching on, much to the delight of the players.
“I like calling it The Zou,” sophomore safety Kenji Jackson said. “It’s got some swagger to it.”
Teammate Danario Alexander agrees.
“The Zou is a perfect name for it,” Alexander said. “It’s the Zou. We want to make it crazy in that place, make it a tough place to play.”
Meanwhile, Sean Weatherspoon attributes the name to the way the Tigers have played there lately. “We’ve got some wild and crazy animals that play in the Zou. We’ve done a great job protecting home and I want to keep that going.”
If Missouri does keep it going, it is going to take a strong effort against an underrated Bowling Green team.
Missouri is 30-7 at home since nicknaming Faurot Field “The Zou,” in 2003. Better yet, they have gone 17-2 there in the last three seasons. However, that does not mean Bowling Green is going down without a fight.
Falcons’ senior quarterback Tyler Sheehan, who threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s week one victory is expressing no shortage of confidence as he prepares to face an improved Mizzou defense.
“We’re expecting big things from us (this week),” Sheehan said when asked what he expects when taking on the 25th ranked Tigers. “We have a good shot at getting some attention from some people.”
Gary Pinkel is among those who are already giving full attention to Sheehan and the Falcons. Pinkel is 0-2 at Mizzou when facing Bowling Green. Although the Tigers last loss to Bowling Green was back in 2002, Pinkel is determined it doesn’t happen to this year’s team.
“Every player has things they can do to improve,” Pinkel said. “[Bowling Green] is a good football team.”
So while fans continue to scoop up the last remaining tickets for this week’s game, they could be in for a surprise if they are expecting a total blowout. Bowling Green is 11-8 against major conference opponents since 2001. And oh yeah, the last time the Falcons played a team ranked 25th in the country? They beat Pittsburgh 27-17 just last season.
Missouri is the favorite in Saturday’s contest and rightfully so, but no matter how rowdy “The Zou” gets, don’t expect a complete Tiger feeding frenzy. However, if last Saturday’s performance against Illinois is truly an indication of how good this team is, the Tigers will once again send Tiger fans home happy.
As defensive tackle Jaron Baston put it, “This is a program here to stay,” he said. “As long as they come out and support us, I think we’ll make them pretty happy.”
Note: At the request of some of our readers, I have put up some final scoreboard pictures below. After this, you’ll have to come see it person.