Say one thing for Barry Odom’s Missouri Tigers: they’re gonna get their points against lesser opponents. They romped to a 52-12 win over UConn on Saturday night at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
Drew Lock completed 31 of 37 passes for 377 yards and five scores and barely had to play in the second half, and the Tigers put this game away early.
Lock completed 24 of 30 passes in the first half, and the only time they were stopped before half (sans a last-minute clock-killing drive) was when a turf monster reached up and tripped Ish Witter on a third-down screen pass. A bad snap on the ensuing punt sailed over Corey Fatony’s head for a safety and a 2-0 UConn lead.
Mizzou scored 45 of the next 48 points.
The slippery turf seemed to give Mizzou’s players more trouble than the UConn secondary did in the first half. The young unit has been outmanned and taking lumps all season, and Saturday night was no different. J’Mon Moore and Johnathon Johnson combined for 13 catches, 226 yards, and three scores, and Albert Okwuegbunam continued to find the end zone: four catches, 34 yards, two scores.
Oh yeah, and in garbage time, backup running back Dawson Downing did this:
Downing rushed 10 times for 60 yards and helped to distract defenders for a 22-yard touchdown keeper by backup quarterback Micah Wilson, the final score of the evening.
The Missouri defense controlled proceedings as well, though it got a lot of help from the UConn receiving corps. Husky quarterback Bryant Shirreffs completed 19 of 39 passes for 202 yards but put a lot more than 19 passes on the hands of his receivers. Drops were an issue, as were sacks. He deserved better.
Missouri has now wrapped up a 3-1 non-conference slate and will return home for its final two home games of the year, contests against Florida and Tennessee. The Tigers are 3-5 overall and must win three of their final four games to reach bowl eligibility. The result of the Tennessee-Kentucky game notwithstanding, Mizzou’s final four opponents each have losing records, too.
Over their past four games, against both SEC foes (Kentucky and Georgia) and non-cons (Idaho and UConn), the Tigers’ offense has caught fire, averaging 46 points and 530 yards per game. Yes, a lot of that came in the last two weeks, but the Tigers were showing signs of life before Idaho’s visit.
How much of this momentum will carry forward now that they have to again face SEC defenses, and without Damarea Crockett? Ish Witter and Larry Rountree III had an excellent 133 yards in 16 carries against UConn, but for all of Florida’s current issues, the Gators still have a better run defense than the Huskies.
And what of the defense? The poor positioning and missed tackles have subsided, and none of Mizzou’s final four opponents have particularly impressive offenses. But the Tigers have yet to allow a power conference opponent under 31 points this year, and they did get a lot of help from UConn in making stops in East Hartford.
But that’s a concern for later. Missouri has outscored its last two opponents, 120-33. That’s a lot more fun than losing.