MIZZOU – 33 KENTUCKY – 10
At 3-4 on the season and 0-4 in SEC play, it was safe to say today’s game against the Kentucky Wildcats was a must-win for the Missouri Tigers if they were to have any hopes of continuing their 7 season bowl game appearance streak.
Coming off of a much needed bye week, the Tigers needed to show some improvement in several areas, especially offensively, and they did that…although it wasn’t that much improvement.
Mizzou, on the strength of their defense, pounded the Wildcats 33-10 on homecoming in Columbia to get back to .500 on the season at 4-4.
It was also Mizzou’s first ever SEC victory in their new conference.
On the first possession of the game, Kentucky drove down to the Mizzou 33, but Sheldon Richardson went beast mode once again, stripping running back Jonathan George, recovering it and then running all the way to the Wildcats 25 yard line.
Plays like that is why Mr. Richardson will be a 1st round pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Four plays later, Mizzou tailback Kendial Lawrence ran it in from five yards out to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead early on.
But with great field position after a good return, Kentucky answered in only four plays themselves, as tailback Raymond Sanders punched it in for a one yard touchdown to tie it up at 7 early in the 1st quarter.
That was about all Kentucky would do the rest of the game.
After several fumbles, including a lost fumble on a punt by star return man Marcus Murphy, the two teams traded field goals before an 11 play, 52 yard drive capped off by a two yard touchdown run by Lawrence to give the Tigers a 17-10 lead going in to the half.
Things started to go downhill for Mizzou quarterback Corbin Berkstresser at the start of the second half however.
Berkstresser came in for another drive, but surprisingly, Franklin came in to the game with 4:58 left in the 3rd quarter.
If Franklin was healthy enough to come into the game, why didn’t he start? What took so long for him to come into the game?
On Franklin’s first drive of the game, he pretty much just handed it off to Lawrence and company, which was a great idea all day. The drive ended with a 31 yard field goal by Andrew Baggett to put Mizzou up 20-10 with under a minute to play in the 3rd quarter.
But the quarter wasn’t over yet, as defensive end Brad Madison sacked and stripped Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles, recovered by linebacker Zaviar Gooden at the Kentucky 12 yard line.
Two plays later, Murphy was in the end zone on a 9 yard touchdown scamper to give the Tigers a comfortable 26-10 lead with a quarter to play.
The defense wasn’t done yet though.
With about 9 minutes to go in the game, the Wildcats fumbled AGAIN, this time picked up by stud corner E.J. Gaines who ran it in for a 13 yard touchdown.
And that was it.
Mizzou gets a much needed victory after two tough losses to Alabama and Vanderbilt, and is still alive for a bowl game invite.
TOTAL YARDS: MU – 279 UK – 179
PASSING YARDS: MU – 87 UK – 78
RUSHING YARDS: MU – 186 UK – 101
THIRD DOWN EFFICIENCY: MU – 10/16 UK – 1/12
FIRST DOWNS: MU – 20 UK – 9
TURNOVERS: MU – 3 UK – 3
PENALTIES: MU – 2-15 UK – 5-40
TIME OF POSSESSION: MU – 36:26 UK – 23:34
PASSING: Berkstresser – 10/18, 71 yds (3.9 avg), 2 INT, Franklin – 6/9, 16 yds (1.8 avg)
RUSHING: Lawrence – 23 rush, 108 yds (4.7 avg), 2 TD, Murphy – 8 rush, 43 yds (5.4 avg), 1 TD, Hansbrough – 7 rush, 37 yds (5.3 avg)
RECEIVING: Green-Beckham – 7 rec, 25 yds (3.6 avg), McGaffie – 4 rec, 40 yds (10 avg), Moe – 1 rec, 8 yds, Washington – 1 rec, 7 yds, Lawrence – 3 rec, 7 yds
OFFENSE: Kendial Lawrence – Who else? By far the most consistent playmaker on the Mizzou offense so far this season, the senior tailback ran for 108 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns on the day. Offensive coordinator David Yost FINALLY gave him the ball and stuck with him. Another great game by Lawrence.
DEFENSE: Will Ebner – Several Tigers on the defense could have won this award, but Will Ebner had a dominating game today. The middle linebacker had six tackles, FIVE of them for a loss, a shared sack and a forced fumble on the day. He was everywhere.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Andrew Baggett – It looks like the redshirt freshman has taken control of the field goal kicking job. Baggett made two field goals on the day with a long of 44, and has now made seven in a row for the Tigers.
This was a must-win game for Mizzou if they wanted any shot at a bowl game this season.
They got it done.
While it definitely still wasn’t pretty, a win is a win is a win.
The main issues with this team has obviously been well documented.
The offensive line has had a mass amount of injuries and starting quarterback James Franklin has been banged up and out of the lineup almost all season.
But it’s been more than just injuries. The team has just looked very undisciplined all season. They don’t look very well coached. Continuous high snaps, bad penalties and just sloppy play all year.
Not a good recipe going into your first season in the SEC.
But it’s not the competition that Mizzou is facing that’s making them struggle, it’s themselves. This is by far Gary Pinkel’s worst team since 2004, and maybe his worst offense since he got here.
Mizzou struggled offensively against Arizona St, Central Florida and even Southeastern Louisiana, not just SEC defenses.
Of course, every non-Mizzou fan will contribute our struggles to the mighty SEC defenses, although that is just not the case.
But there’s just not much the Tigers can do about it this season. Franklin is still not 100%. The offensive line is still banged up. The team still doesn’t look very disciplined.
Can this team win two more games out of the last four to get into a bowl game?
Well, it doesn’t look very likely that they’ll get one of those wins next week as the Tigers travel to Gainesville to face the undefeated, #2 Florida Gators.
It probably won’t be very pretty for Mizzou.
The Tigers then have Tennessee on the road, Syracuse at home for Senior Day, and then #20 Texas A&M in College Station to close out the 2012 season.
Mizzou will obviously have to beat Syracuse, but then they must steal a road win against Tennessee or A&M to become bowl eligible.
That’s what we’re playing for now.