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The roar remains the same

Adobe Flash version 8, or higher, and Java Script are required to view the slide show for this feature story.

MU vs. OU captions.

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Deep in the heart of Texas, the Missouri flag flies in front of San Antonio’s Alamo before Saturday’s Big 12 Championship game.

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Mizzou cheerleaders build momentum at the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Tiger Tailgate pep rally before the MU-Oklahoma game Saturday.

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Sporting the latest in Texican headgear, Tim Hazlett of Kansas City, Mo., wears a black and gold sombrero at the ESPN College GameDay show Saturday morning.

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Marching Mizzou’s flag team unfurls the black and gold before the MU-Oklahoma Big 12 Conference Championship game.

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Tailback Tony Temple makes a move. Temple had 13 carries on the day for 26 yards, a sign of Oklahoma’s tough defense.

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The Sooner defense stops tailback Jimmy Jackson short of the goal line on a crucial play. The Tigers had to settle for a field goal.

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Missouri fans urge the Tigers during the first half of the Big 12 Championship game.

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Chase Daniel scrambles out of the pocket. Oklahoma’s defense held Daniel to zero touchdown passes despite his 219 passing yards.

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Linebacker Sean Witherspoon (No. 12) and a fellow Mizzou defender swarm Oklahoma’s Allen Patrick. Patrick ran for 88 yards on the game as part of the Sooner’s ground attack.

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Sway to left, then to the right. Missouri fans take their cue from the Golden Girls for Marching Mizzou’s rendition of the Missouri Waltz at the Tiger Tailgate.

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Scott Ward of Kansas City, Mo., sports his custom coiffure at the Tiger Tailgate.

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Former Golden Girl and featured twirler Suzanne Wendling ascents to new heights on her father Steve’s shoulders at the Alamo plaza. Now it’s on to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas for the Tigers and their fans.

There was a rumble around San Antonio from the black-and-gold masses. Mizzou fans, often skeptical by nature because of tough runs and bad luck, were buzzing with optimism about the team's chances against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. "If you've been a Mizzou football fan, you've been waiting for this for a long time," said MAA Executive Director Todd McCubbin. "You've been watching other teams and saying, 'Why not us?' "

This year, it was us — capturing the Big 12 North title, winning 11 games, ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1960 and playing for a conference championship for the first time since 1969. It also was us playing Oklahoma, a program that time and time again proves its championship status. Oklahoma simply outplayed the Tigers and won 38-17.

Overall stats were not that different. The teams were tied at halftime, and Oklahoma had 375 yards of total offense to Mizzou's 317. But Oklahoma repeatedly scored touchdowns in the red zone while the Tigers repeatedly settled for field goals. Oklahoma also capitalized on the lone turnover of the night, an interception.

"I was hoping my Tigers wouldn't have to go through what I went through 50 years ago," said Brock Hessing, a Mizzou player from the late 1950s who recalls some stinging defeats to the Sooners. "I know what it's like."

So there is disappointment, especially because Kansas is headed to the BCS Orange Bowl while Missouri was squeezed out of the BCS. But there is excitement, too, as Mizzou accepted a bid to the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 1, 2008, in Dallas. This will be Mizzou's first New Year's bowl since 1970, and it brings the prospect of a 12-2 season and a solid top-10 (possibly top-five) finish. In a testament to fan support, Mizzou's official allotment of 16,000 tickets sold out the morning they went on sale.

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