Only minutes before kickoff, Faurot Field was mostly empty. Perhaps it was the 11 a.m. kickoff time, or the fact that Mizzou hasn't been very exciting to watch this season, but it looked to be an extremely disappointing turnout for MU’s 106th Homecoming.
Then, Drew Lock threw an interception on the first play of the game. Boos could be heard from the stands. The Vandals (2-5) quickly took a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard play action pass from Matt Linehan to Kaden Elliss, and Missouri looked just about as shaky as its attendance.
“That's not how you draw it up,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “But I looked around the sideline and guys were fairly calm and said, 'Coach we got this, we're alright.’”
As the size of the crowd gradually improved, however, so did the play of the Tigers. Mizzou (2-5, 0-4 SEC) beat Idaho 68-21 in a much-needed offensive explosion. Lock completed 23 of 33 passes for 467 yards and six touchdowns
Outside of a disastrous first play, the Tigers played their best quarter of the season, and it wasn’t even close.
Missouri outgained Idaho 279-46, outscored Idaho 34-7, and dashed any hopes that Idaho had of winning despite possessing the ball for only 4 minutes and 48 seconds in the first quarter. Lock went 10-13 for 216 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Albert Okwuegbunam.
The Tigers’ fast-paced offense was working to perfection all game. Mizzou scored on seven drives of at least 60 yards that took up less than three minutes of game clock. Their 51 first-half points set a new school record against an FBS opponent.
The Mizzou defense started just as well, and went on to allow both its fewest points and yards so far this year.
Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel had a “very pointed discussion” with Lock after his pick. “It would not be G-rated,” Odom said, opting not to give details.
Lock responded with a strong drive on the following possession, completing four of five passes for 89 yards. The junior quarterback found Okwuegbunam wide-open over the middle for a 19-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
“Albert is a freak athlete,” Lock said. “He's 260-plus, running like a deer out there with really soft hands.”
The Tigers got a stop, and next came their most exciting special teams play of the season. Cade Coffey's punt hit the turf before skipping up and into the arms of Richaud Floyd at the Missouri 15-yard line.
Floyd took off, racing past the Idaho coverage team with ease and bouncing outside to the right. He made Coffey miss before tiptoeing the sideline and walking into the end zone to put the Tigers up 14-7.
“I really couldn't believe how open it was,” Floyd said. “The people on our team did a great job and I just did the rest.”
After Jonathon Johnson hauled in a 50-yard bomb, Lock hit J'Mon Moore on a 15-yard post route for a score. Moore had 11 receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown.
“I definitely needed a bounce-back week,” Moore said, referring to his sub-par game against Georgia. “I thought about Georgia a lot, I wanted that game a lot, but it is what it is so I have to move forward from it.”
Lock delivered a strike to Okwuegbunam for another 19-yard touchdown later in the quarter that was almost identical to the first. The two connected for their third score of the game on a 10-yard pass one minute later.
On the final play of the opening period, Larry Rountree III lowered his helmet and truck-sticked an Idaho defender before breaking away on a 53-yard run. Rountree didn’t score, but the run personified just how unstoppable the Mizzou offense was.
“I was just hitting the first person I saw in front of me,” Rountree III said. “I'm not afraid of contact, and every time a defender came my way I was just either trying to shake em or run em over with my speed and power.”
Rountree ran for 97 yards and split carries with Ish Witter in the absence of Damarea Crockett. “It still looks like he’s going to be out for a while,” Odom said. Crockett is recovering from a shoulder injury.
The Tigers ended up settling for a 33-yard field goal by Nick Bartolotta, who appeared in his first game as a Tiger. Tucker McCann missed the game after violating team policy, but will return next week.
Witter punched in a four-yard touchdown rush after Kendall Blanton took a pass 62 yards. The Missouri tight ends found consistent success against Idaho’s secondary.
Emanuel Hall got in on the scoring, laying out for a 20-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone to give the Tigers a 51-14 lead with 23 seconds left in the first half. Hall made a 45-yard catch early in the game but was relatively quiet compared to the past two weeks.
Hall mostly served as a distraction. “You don't necessarily want Emanuel and J'Mon running one-on-one with anybody in this country,” Lock said. “They were playing over the top of the outside guys which opened the middle of the field up.”
After Witter ran for another touchdown in the third quarter and Floyd caught an 18-yard touchdown, the starters were pulled.
Missouri will travel to Connecticut to play against the Huskies (3-4) on Oct. 27. The Tigers won the only previous game between the two teams by a score of 9-6 in 2015.
The Tigers are viewing the final six games of the year as a second season. “Starting off 1-0 is huge for us,” Lock said. “We got a lot of games coming up that we believe are winnable games.” Next Saturday, Mizzou will attempt to go “2-0.”