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Mizzou scored a statistical moral victory against Kentucky. That’s as good as a real win, right?

Right? No? Not even close?

Missouri v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Hooray, we have an actually interesting game to review, one that features potential analysis beyond “Yeah, Mizzou lost every matchup” or “Yeah, Mizzou didn’t show up.”

Boo, Mizzou lost all the same.

  • “Kentucky win expectancy: 35%.” That win expectancy figure is a postgame look at key stats that is intended to say “With these stats, you could have expected to win this game X% of the time.” So Mizzou wins this game two-thirds of the time. Haha, I’m not mad at all, though. I find it funny actually, haha. Haha. Hahahahaha.
  • Once again, awful drive finishing did Mizzou in. Just like it helped to do against South Carolina and just like it did two or three times last year. If Mizzou didn’t score from 40+ yards out, the TIgers couldn’t put the ball in the end zone (unless a long bomb got the ball down inside the 2).
  • Hot damn, that was some good rushing. In a game in which Mizzou completed like 24 long passes (give or take), the efficiency of the run game (and inefficiency of the pass) defined the near-upset.
  • Mizzou’s turnovers luck threw me off here. The Tigers recovered neither of the game’s fumbles and have recovered a damn near awe-inspiring two of 13 fumbles this season, which is the main source of their minus-4.6 points per game of bad turnovers luck. But that average actually went in a favorable direction in this one. Why? Because a) Mizzou was the source of both fumbles, and b) Kentucky defensed more passes (5) than Mizzou (4) and Mizzou was the team that came up with the interception.
  • By the way, only 18 percent of opponents’ incompletions this year have come via pass defensed (interception or break-up). That ranks 130th, dead last, in FBS. Mizzou has the least disruptive ball-in-the-air pass defense in the country. And that’s AFTER the Tigers logged their third INT of the season.

Man oh man, Ish Witter ran hard. He got most of the carries down the stretch, and I couldn’t tell if it was because he was the hot hand or if Barry Odom was as pissed at Damarea Crockett for his third-quarter fumble as I was. Seriously, he has six career fumbles, and I swear all of them have happened in opposing territory. (Don’t check me on this. I didn’t say I was actually right.)

Regardless, we saw how everything opens up when the run game is clicking. Mizzou hit actual deep throws in key times for the first time since Jason Reese’s long touchdown in the first half of the South Carolina game; it’s not a coincidence that that was also the last time Mizzou seemed to have a dangerous run game.

The Mizzou defense, meanwhile, did a really nice job against Benny Snell, I thought. Yes, he had the one long run (and yes, you have to count that, too), but only five of his 20 carries gained even five yards. Granted, 2017 Snell isn’t 2016 Snell, but it was a further sign that the run defense isn’t that far away from being decent.

(Don’t remind me I said this when Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are rushing 40 times for 335 yards on Saturday.)

Lock finished with a 147 passer rating, the third-best of his career against a power conference team. The only performances that were better: Georgia 2016 and Arkansas 2016.

That’s great, but it’s hard not to wonder what might have been if he hadn’t misfired on quite a few passes. Threw some low, threw some off-target, had a couple of miscommunication issues with semi-open receivers. There were probably 28-30 completions available in those 43 throws, but he wasn’t quite as accurate as he could have been.

Of course, those throws get forgotten when you see some of the amazing downfield throws he’s capable of. That laser beam to J’Mon Moore in the second quarter was particularly gorgeous.

What was I saying about inaccurate throws? I forget...

When your three starting receivers catch 17 of 29 balls for 312 yards, your three starting receivers did their jobs. But it’s still not hard to see the next step required of each of them.

As good as Emanuel Hall was, 116 of his 129 yards came on two bombs. That means passes to him were otherwise 2-for-6 for 13 yards. Yes, the bombs were great, but you have to be able to run more than a go route (and your quarterback needs to be able to throw more passes than that, too). If we’re looking for reasons why Dimetrios Mason was starting over Hall (beyond “Hall was hurt”), start there.

I mean, I don’t want to be overly critical. Go routes are beautiful. But good defenses will erase all but maybe one of those per game. You have to be more technically sound to beat, say, Georgia’s defense.

In its own way, the same goes for Johnathon Johnson. As I wrote last week, I figure the biggest reason why Johnson is used mostly in the screen game and behind the line of scrimmage is that his routes probably aren’t what they need to be (and again, Lock struggles to hit him). He’s fast enough to get away with this against iffy defenses, but there’s still a technical aspect to this passing game that is lacking.

But at least the deep balls came back. I can’t say that enough.

Terez Hall is now first on the team in tackles for loss (6.5) and tied for first with Cale Garrett in the number of run stuffs he's participated in (nine). He's been dynamite. And when he’s not matched up with speedy slot receivers, Garrett’s been strong, too.

Everybody else, however? Less so.