It wasn't the tactics, it wasn't how much anybody was running, it wasn't who any of the assistant coaches were, it wasn't the yardage navy was getting, it wasn't a few faltering Mizzou drives, it was nothing to do with full backs. It was faces. Two of them. Pinkel and Gabbert. After navy started its marches up and down the field, the cameras found them both at different times (can anyone make a screen cap?), and they looked like they'd just seen the entire starting defense have a fatal bus crash on the way to the game. They looked like the knew they were beat and they were just hoping for some improbable thing to work out and save them. The last time I saw that look on a football player's face, it was Chase Daniel's at the Big 12 championship game vs. Oklahoma. I knew we were cooked when I saw him on the sideline then too.
It almost wasn't surprising to me when, after that, Gabbert started muffing easy sideline throws and forcing passes into traffic (Navy could have had at least 2 or 3 more interceptions than they did if their defense guys have better hands).
I don't blame them for feeling this way, it's a natural reaction, but it does suggest that one thing Mizzou could really REALLY use is to invest in a sports psychologist to help them stay more mentally balanced and focused when they're facing a really tough team in a really big game. That kick of anxiety to your guts can make you tighten up just that little bit, make you just a touch less creative, take the edge off your mental flexibility (see Yerkes-Dodson law). The more complex your task is, the less helpful it is for you to be so tightly hyped up. Your non-conscious autonomic nervous system starts constricting your flexibility. There are ways around it, and they aren't speeches to yourself about being tough... They need some help with it. There's no shame in this, England's national football team has been having to do exactly this same thing.
Just my $.02 as the resident psychologist (yeah, I've got the degrees to prove it).