Mizzou Pulls Away in the Fourth Quarter, Beats Nevada 31-21

Consider this your celebration thread.

Initial Positives:

  • On third-and-long, Blaine Gabbert reared back and uncorked a 58-yard completion in which all 58 yards came in the air.  Sweet merciful crap.
  • Seriously, Gabbert potentially has the best deep ball I've ever seen.  It's an unbelievable weapon.
  • They got pushed around on the first drive of both halves, but otherwise the Mizzou defense came to play.  I obviously haven't crunched the numbers yet, but Mizzou did not allow much of anything on Passing Downs and even stiffened up on a few short-yardage situations to boot.
  • Aldon Smith, Jacquies Smith, and Brian Coulter all made plays.  Great to see.
  • I'm not sure we've ever had a meaner pair of linebackers than Sean Weatherspoon and Will Ebner.
  • Danario Alexander, you are the man.

Initial Negatives:

  • If you had just read my BTBS previews from the summer and not at all paid attention to Nevada's first two games, you'd have gotten the impression that Nevada had a good front seven capable of shooting gaps and causing some problems for Mizzou's running game.  That's what we saw tonight.  Unfortunately, their first two games of this season created a different impression.  Until the fourth quarter, the running game was god-awful.  Until the third quarter, Nevada's pass rush was all over Gabbert.  Mizzou made adjustments and won the game, so that's cool, but still...this makes three of four games in which Derrick Washington simply did not run very successfully at all.  Run stuffing is not the Nebraska D-line's specialty--they're a lot better at the pass rush--but NU is still going to be capable of completely shutting down Mizzou's run if Mizzou doesn't improve.
  • On a somewhat related topic...the redzone offense was atrocious.  No offensive line push whatsoever led to too many field goal attempts.
  • On defense, I'm not going to complain much considering Nevada averaged less than five yards per play, but Mizzou's front four really did get pushed around on a couple of drives.  They always responded well, but still.  Nebraska's undoubtedly going to try to exploit that potential weakness.

That's enough complaints.  We'll dive into the numbers next week, but for now this super-young team passed a tricky road test.  Nothing wrong with that.

And in case you missed it below...live blog after the jump.

First Quarter

8:01 - And we're looking liiiiiiiiiive from Casa Bill C., the first official Mizzou game watched from the comfort of our new house.  Feel the excitement.  We're a little late to the action here because the wife wanted to watch Smallville first.  (I make it sound like it was just her, but...well, I've seen every damn episode too.)

8:01 - Nevada kicks off, and Munir Prince almost does something stupid by waiting until the last inch to kneel down in the endzone.

8:02 - Interesting first playcall (sideline pass to Danario for no gain), followed by a bad pass to Washington, and just like that, we've got exactly what we needed to avoid: 3rd-and-10.

8:03 - Aaaaaand three-and-out.  Guess we're not feeling that whole "good start" thing.

8:03 - Break for Mizzou!  Vai Taua does something REALLY stupid in trying to field a punt he couldn't actually see.  He muffs it, and GACK recovers for Missouri at midfield!  And Taua hurt himself too.  Bad ten seconds for that dude.

8:05 - Two-yard loss for Washington, but then Gabbert finds Jackson for a first down.

8:06 - Passes to Washington and Jared Perry, and Mizzou's in field goal range at the 22.  Looking better on this drive thus far.

8:07 - Good coverage from Nevada on the deep ball to Jackson, and it's 3rd-and-7 from the 19.  Gabbert fires a DART to a jumping Danario.  First and goal.

8:08 - Two runs so far for Washington, and both have been completely eaten up.  Fade route too far for Alexander, and it's third-and-goal from the 12.  Rod Gilmore talking about the spread's struggles in the redzone.  You're playing with fire, Rod.  Just so you know.

8:09 - Gabbert pulls a Chase Daniel and avoids the rush to find Perry at the five.  Chip shot field goal coming.

8:09 - Bingo.  3-0 Mizzou.  The early run struggle is worrisome to me, but Mizzou leads.  And after the last couple of starts, I'll take that.

8:12 - First play for Nevada (it's always bad to have a turnover before your first offensive play) is a play-action pass to Brandon Wimberly for a first down.  He's ROCKED by Kenji Jackson, but it's still a first down.

8:14 - Kaepernick with that damn play fake (I still have nightmares about those fakes from last year's game...and we won that one by 52!), boots for another first down.

8:15 - Another first down.  Good blocking for Luke Lippincott on a 10-yard run.  Nevada is very much varying the play-calling so far.

8:16 - Kaepernick somehow completes a short pass through both 'Spoon and The Carl Gettis Treatment.  Third-and-3 for UNR from the Mizzou 38...and Kaepernick calls timeout.  7:17 left in Q1.

8:20 - We're back...third down...Kaepernick audibles...and the left side of the Nevada OL blows Mizzou up.  Lippincott for an easy four yards.  Looked like it was going to be 30 yards, but Jasper Simmons closed the gap.

8:21 - Welcome to Rock M Nation, Jarrell Harrison!  Lowers the boom on an unsuspecting receiver for a five-yard gain...big hits from Mizzou, Nevada's still moving.

8:21 - And Kaepernick burns his second timeout in three plays.  Ohhhhkay.

8:24 - The up-the-middle run for Lippincott is readily available.  First down for Nevada at the 19.

8:25 - Less luck for LL on the outside.  Jacquies Smith just eats him up for a 2-yard loss.

8:25 - More great play-calling from Nevada...a reverse burns Mizzou for a big gain.  Jarrell Harrison lights Chris Wellington up for a huge hit...but it's first-and-goal.

8:26 - Are you freaking kidding me?  Kaepernick just called Nevada's last timeout of the half.  As my wife just put it, "Even I know that's bad."

8:27 - Don Draper says..."Z-O-U...forever," in the Mizzou commercial. My wife is VERY excited by this turn of events.

8:28 - Timeout, Wolf Pack.  Another run up the middle.  It's apparently the first first-half score of the season for Nevada.  And hey, Nevada actually made a kick too!  First of the year!  Oh wait...timeout on the field.  False start on UNR.  PAT still good.  Glad we went through all that.  7-3 Nevada.

8:31 - Munir Prince takes a bad angle for a return, and...Luke Lippincott makes the tackle at the 13?  Huh.

8:31 - Damn turf monsters.  Mizzou runs an excellent reverse to Jerrell Jackson...who is tripped up by the 27 yard line.  Make the right move there, and he's still running.

8:32 - Jared Perry is CRUSHED for a three-yard gain.  Lots of big hits in the first 11 minutes.

8:32 - Blaine Gabbert evades a collapsing pocket, rolls right, and throws it away...oh, I'm sorry, he was completing it for 33 yards to Wes Kemp.  Wow, do I love me some Blaine Gabbert.  Maybe you've heard this before, but...dude's got a pocket cannon in his right arm.

8:33 - First down, Danario Alexander...and he's crushed.  Seriously, there are some big freaking hits in this game.

8:34 - OOPTY-OOP!  WE JUST RAN THE OOPTY-OOP!  Four wide to one side, single coverage on the other for Jared Perry.  Easy pass and catch.  I'm telling you, Jonathan Moxon was ahead of his time.

8:35 - We've attempted three fade routes in the first quarter and failed miserably on all three.  Chase Coffman is not walking through that door!  2nd-and-10 from the 13.

8:35 - No gain for Washington, and we've got third-and-long.  No running room whatsoever thus far.

8:36 - Poor pass to an open Perry in the endzone.  Boo.  Grant Ressel coming on yet again...

8:36 - ...and a 31-yarder from Ressel is good.  That sucker was so high, it almost went over the net.  Ressel's 8-for-8 on FGs this season.  7-6 Nevada.

8:38 - Gotta love altitude.  Tanner Mills has kicked off twice...and boomed two touchbacks.

8:39 - Okay, there's soft coverage, and there's soft freaking coverage.  Wimberly is wide open 20 yards downfield, makes Gettis miss, and picks up another nine yards.  Come on, Carl Gettis Treatment.

8:40 - And that's the end of the first quarter...we'll start Q2 with a third-and-long for Nevada.

Second Quarter

8:44 - First play of the quarter...and Aldon Smith introduces himself to Colin Kaepernick for a 13-yard loss!  Nevada to punt!

8:46 - Whut?  Left handoff to Washington, who looks to pass?  Running to his left?  He loses about 10 yards, then throws it out of bounds for intentional grounding.  Second-and-3, meet third-and-14.  Too clever by half.

8:47 - Gabbert avoids a sack and makes a VERY stupid pass.  Couldn't throw it out of bounds, so he threw it away to the middle of the field?  Nevada somehow didn't intercept it.  Mizzou to punt.

8:47 - Yet another Jake Harry rugby punt that gets an amazingly great roll.  Sixty-one yards for Harry.  He's quite the field flipper.  Oh, and Joe Tessitore?  It's Jake HARRY.  Not Jake Henry.

8:49 - I'm not even remotely nervous about this game yet, but lack of execution up front on the offensive line has given Nevada confidence.  You don't want underdogs with confidence, and we need to take it away from them, stat.

8:51 - And Mizzou continues to get gashed by run blocking.  Pass rush has been pretty good; standing up to the run?  Not so much.

8:53 - Nice tackling from The Carl Gettis Treatment on a screen, and it's 3rd-and-9 for Nevada.  You CANNOT give up passing down conversions to Nevada.  It's not their thing...okay, now it's 3rd-and-14 after a false start.  They CANNOT convert this.

8:54 - MAJOR pressure from Mizzou, and Jaron Baston collects Kaepernick for the sack.  Aldon Smith has been a NIGHTMARE in this quarter.  Nevada to punt.

8:55 - Okay, credit where it's due: that was one of the greatest 5-yard punt returns you'll ever see.  Carl Gettis had to dodge tacklers from both Nevada AND Mizzou, almost broke it three times, then finally went down before he inevitably fumbled.  I applaud the effort (and the end-of-play smarts), Carl.  Mizzou at midfield.

8:58 - They're selling out on D-Wash, and Gabbert's found a couple of decent gains on keepers.

8:58 - Hey, hey!  It's an Andrew Jones sighting!!  His customary 5-yard gain sets up a 3rd-and-2 for Mizzou.  Woohoo!  Dontay Moch jumped offsides.  First down, Mizzou!

9:01 - Red zone execution: Ur doing it wrong.  A deflected pass, illegal substitution, and overthrow of Alexander, and it's 3rd-and-15 for Mizzou from the 26.

9:02 - Ugh.  Gabbert is crushed and fumbles...and SOMEHOW he recovers.  Mizzou's out of field goal range.  I talked up Nevada's defensive ends in the offseason, but...really?  This good?  I'm doubting it.  Come on, guys.

9:03 - Jake Harry: all-conference punter.  And potentially MVP.  He lobs it easily, and it's downed at the five.

9:04 - Wow.  Will Ebner was freaking horse-collared at the goal line.  No call.  If that's not holding, I have no idea what is.

9:05 - Third-and-5 for Nevada...pocket collapses on Kaepernick once again, but it collapses a little too much, and he escapes for the first down.  Really close there.

9:06 - Hardy Ricks (I didn't think he was playing?) crushes Lippincott, but after a seven-yard gain.  Nevada to their 25.

9:07 - Third-and-2 for Nevada...they're supposed to convert these...and they do not!  Half a yard short!  Nice tackle by...well, somebody.  Nevada to punt.  Under 6 minutes left in the half somehow.  This seems like the fastest Missouri game in about six years.

9:11 - A short pass to Perry and a four-yard run for Washington, and it's third-and-2 for Mizzou.  Washington has six carries for -7 yards, by the way.  Ugh.

9:12 - Easy pass to Danario for the first down.  Move those chains!

9:13 - Ugh.  Fake option pass, and Gabbert overthrows Perry.  Would have been a touchdown.

9:13 - Hey, hey!  It's Brandon Gerau!  First down, Mizzou!

9:14 - Hey, hey!  It's Kendial Lawrence!  Four-yard gain...and then a one-yard loss.  Third-and-7 for Mizzou.  Come on, Blaine.

9:15 - Hee hee...wow.  Gabbert somehow escaped a collapsing pocket, then found Danario Alexander.  The entire secondary overran Alexander, who turned around and walked in for the last 20 yards.  Touchdown.  12-7, Mizzou.  ...and it'll stay 12-7, as Mizzou chooses to go for 2...and runs it?  Really?  Washington stopped easily.  Mizzou by 5.

9:18 - First kick return opportunity of the night for Nevada, and it's a decent one.  The Wolf Pack will start at their 35 with 2:02 left.  Come on, defense.

9:18 - Okay, now I just expect the playfake.  Kaepernick finds an open receiver to the UNR 47.

9:19 - Wow...Kaepernick goes deep to Wimberly, who was wide open because somehow Gettis had to cover two guys.  Gettis, however, CRUSHES him, and the ball comes loose for an incompletion.  That hit saved at least three points.

9:20 - Yup, saved at least three points.  'Spoon and Will Ebner OBLITERATE Kaepernick for a sack on third down.  Wow.  That had to hurt.  Nevada will punt from their 45, and Mizzou calls timeout with 1:08 left.

9:21 - Fair catch by Gettis at the 15.  Nevada has no timeouts, so Mizzou can actually take a chance or two without worrying about having to punt it back.

9:22 - Pressure on Gabbert again, and he escapes for two yards...Mizzou will likely milk the clock on this down, then use the result of this play to determine whether to just kneel it or not.

9:23 - Wow.  D-Wash fumbles.  That's the only thing that couldn't happen, and it did.  Worst first half of Washington's career, I think.

9:24 - A personal foul penalty backs Nevada up, and then Brian Coulter makes Kaepernick scramble.  He's tackled for two yards...and Nevada has no timeouts!  Kaepernick spikes the ball with 0:05 left, and now Nevada will just have to try a mini-hail mary.  Huge play from Coulter, made even bigger by the penalty and the burned timeouts.

9:26 - Here we go, boys...no breakdowns, please...nice.  Kaepernick throws it away, and Mizzou escapes without having to pay for the fumble.  12-7 at halftime.

Third Quarter

9:49 - And we're back.  Well, Nevada is.  They return the second half kickoff 53 yards, and just like that, they're in Mizzou territory.  Awesome.

9:51 - And apparently we're going for a direct replica of the Bowling Green game.  Offense struggles in the first half, defense lays down on the opening drive of the second half.  Nevada already inside the Mizzou 25.

9:52 - Apparently some Nevada coach went in at halftime and realized..."Hey guys?  That up-the-middle run was working pretty well.  How's about we go back to that?"

9:53 - Third-and-1 from the Mizzou 15...Jaron Baston meets Lippincott behind the line of scrimmage, but they both fall forward.  They'll measure...first down.

9:55 - After a short run and throwaway, it's 3rd-and-7 for Nevada.  Again, these are the things you cannot allow Nevada to convert.

9:56 - ...and they convert.  The pocket collapses again on Kaepernick, but he scrambles left and there's nobody there.  Touchdown.  13-12.  They'll go for two just like Mizzou...and they don't get it.  Nevada gives the point back.  13-12 it stays.  Whatchu got, Mizzou offense?

10:01 - They just broke in with an update...for a high school game on ESPN2.  I haven't gotten used to the prevalence of high school football yet.

10:01 - Wow.  Gabbert with a GORGEOUS pass to Danario Alexander, who leaps for the catch, makes one move...and jogs for a 74-yard touchdown.  What a pass, what a catch.  Naturally, the two-point conversion is a big hot plate of fail, but Mizzou leads again.  18-13.  Old school football here, with teams scoring just six points at a time.

10:15 - Ha, 18-13.  It's the Davy Crockett game...in 18-13, the creeks uprose...addin' redskin arrows to the country's woes...get it?  Ahh, old school racism with a nice melody...

10:07 - Hmm.  Lippincott breaks off another nice run, but he stays down, pointing at his leg.  Looks like he's cramping up.  That's fine with me.

10:08 - First down, Kaepernick on a play-fake keeper.  Seriously, how did this guy suck for two games?  This is exactly the Kaep I expected to see this offseason.

10:09 - NICE play by Zaviar Gooden, snuffing out a quick sideline pass.  Sets up a 2nd-and-11.  Tessitore breaks right into the "He's wearing #25 after Aaron O'Neal" story that he'd been waiting to uncork all night.

10:10 - Alright, here we go boys.  Third-and-10 for Nevada from the Mizzou 44...don't break contain this time...

...nice.  Quick pressure on Kaep, and he throws it away, I guess.  He either threw it away, or overthrew it into double coverage, and Dave Steckel got BLASTED on the sideline.  Naturally, he hopped back up with no problem.  UNR to punt.

10:15 - Bubble screen to Danario, and he was about one step away from taking it to the house again.  Seven yard gain.

10:16 - Okay, reverses rarely work twice.  Nevada snuffs Jerrell Jackson out the second time around.  Second-and-14 for Mizzou from their 27.

10:16 - ...what?  Gabbert rolls out of the pocket and threw it away...only yet again he didn't actually throw it away.  Kendial Lawrence comes down with the ball 30 yards downfield.  Nineteen completions for 302 freaking yards for #11.

10:18 - First down to Jared Perry.  Nice.  Score a touchdown this time in the redzone!

10:19 - Okay, stop with the fade routes.  That one was also a fail, only Mizzou gets bailed out with a pass interference call.

10:20 - First and goal from the four...and Washington loses a yard.  Oy.

10:20 - Option run by Gabbert loses about eight yards.  Just give up on the run already.  This is ridiculous.

10:21 - Third-and-goal from the 13, and the pass is broken up.  Just AWFUL in the redzone today.  Good lord.

10:22 - Luckily we have Grant Ressel.  He booms home a 30-yarder, and Mizzou leads 21-13.  Without two-point attempts, it would be 23-14.

10:23 - Mark, Jimmie, Denny, Kurt...and Juan Pablo.  In the NASCAR points race, one of these things...not like the other ones...

10:24 - Kaepernick sidearms one to Tray Session for 12 yards.  He's 6'6 and throws like he's 6'1.  But he's completing them.  And then he scrambles for 20 yards.  Yup...I'm going to have another year's worth of playfake nightmares.

10:25 - Third-and-1 for Nevada...somehow they're already to the Mizzou 32...and Aldon Smith and Will Ebner BLOW UP the run.  Fourth down coming...of course they're going for it...

10:26 - ...and they get it, just barely.

10:29 - Nice pass from Kaepernick.  An 18-yard bullet to Wellington, not as sidearmed.  First down from the Mizzou 13.

10:30 - Hold up four fingers!  We're on to the last 15 minutes...

Fourth Quarter

10:34 - And we start the quarter with a short pass to the tight end.  Nevada will have a 3rd-and-1 from the MU 5...

10:34 - Yes!  Lippincott gets the first down and is CRUSHED by...who else...Aldon Smith.  Fumble.  Brian Coulter recovers.  Bullet dodged!

10:36 - They're going to review this, but it was absolutely, positively a fumble.

10:38 - A-ha...the review confirmed it was a fumble, and it also confirmed that it was Coulter who forced the fumble.  So there you go.

10:39 - Two Washington runs get about two yards (sigh), so it's third-and-8.  Nothing stupid here, Blaine.

10:39 - Pass to "Dontario" Alexander (come on, Tessitore...the dude has almost 200 yards receiving, you should probably get his name right) for the first down!

10:41 - After an incompletion and a three-yarder from Kendial God Lawrence, it's third-and-7...and Gabbert finds Wes Kemp for a first down!  Nice!  Once again, #11 has looked MUCH more comfortable in the second half...

...somebody knock on wood RIGHT THIS SECOND.

10:42 - VERY nice screen to Perry for another first down!  Mizzou has crossed midfield after starting at their 3.

10:43 - D-WASH!!!!!  That's how you improve a rushing average...a 42-yarder and Mizzou's inside the Nevada 10!  I still want a touchdown here, but what a freaking drive.

10:44 - Inside screen...touchdown, Jared Perry, but there's a flag...nope, no flag!  Touchdown!  Holy crap, was that a drive.  Four minutes, 97 yards, dagger.  DAGGER.  28-13, 10:07 left.

10:47 - Blaine Gabbert: 24-for-36, 353 yards, 3 TDs.  Take away fade routes, and I think his completion percentage is about 105.5%.

10:48 - I WILL KILL YOU ONE DAY, FINALLYFAST.COM GUY.  I SWEAR TO IT.

10:49 - SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON blows up a screen, then Aldon Smith bats down a pass.  I'm starting to like this defense.  Third-and-15...

10:50 - ...Kaepernick is chased out of the pocket by Coulter and comes up short of the first down.  Nevada will punt.  They're extremely flat-footed right now.

10:52 - Gabbert loses four on a keeper.  I'll say this much: Nevada's front seven came to play.

10:52 - What a stat: Gabbert is now 32-for-40 for 499 yards and 6 TDs in the second half this season.

10:52 - Okay, 32-for-41 after an overthrow of Andrew Jones.  Third-and-long...no mistakes here, just play conservative and pin them deep with Jake Harry.

10:52 - OR...you can just have Gabbert throw it as far as he can.  Wes Kemp with an unbelievable catch.  58 yards, all in the air.  Mizzou back in the redzone.  Sweet baby jesus.

10:55 - Third-and-5 from the Nevada 10...Kendial God Lawrence for a couple.  After a timeout, Mizzou will kick the field goal...this would make it a three-possession game with 5:00 left...

10:56 - ...perfect.  31-13.  Yet another huge second half for Mr. Gabbert.

11:02 - Okay...a squib kick and two plays later, and Nevada's at the Mizzou 15.  Now that the score is out of "close" range, Mizzou's defense kicks up its feet.

11:03 - Ooooh...if Kaepernick had actually thrown that pass well, The Carl Gettis Treatment would have had a 90-yard pick six.  But he was off target and it was incomplete.

11:04 - Nevada's quite obviously going to score soon, but now's a good time to mention just how good Will Ebner has been tonight.  The Hurricane just easily knocked Kaepernick for a loss on first-and-goal.  Timeout, Nevada, with 2:47 left.

11:06 - Mizzou's not going to give up the points easily...pass caught by Tray Session in the endzone, but Kevin Rutland knocked it out.  Third-and-goal.

11:06 - Touchdown, Brandon Wimberly.  Pretty good freshman receiver.  It'll be 31-20 with 2:32 left...or not.  Of course they're going for two, but they have to call timeout because...of the smoke from the cannon filling the air?

11:09 - Two-point conversion good.  Kaepernick avoids SPOOOOOON and gets in.  31-21.  Again, how was this guy not good in the first two games?  This was exactly what I expected to see from him.  Anyway, recover the onsides kick and don't get fancy.

11:10 - Or just let the kick go out of bounds.  That works too.  Not to be cynical, but how many yards will these three upcoming rushes get?  I say two.

11:11 - Carry #1 gets two yards.  The next play will be run with 1:45 left...

11:12 - Hey, hey...four yards on second down!  Third-and-four...Nevada saves their last timeout...next play will come with about 1:05 left, after Mizzou milks the clock and calls timeout.

11:13 - Heh...nice, loud "M-I-Z, Z-O-U" chant...ha!  It was apparently too jarring for Nevada...they jumped offsides.  Victory formation!

11:15 - Ballgame!  Nice win, boys.  We'll worry about the rushing offense and first half struggles later...for now, victory whiskeys all around!

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