The press box at Faurot Field was littered with red, white and blue pamphlets advertising the 59th Autozone Liberty Bowl. Maybe it was done because Saturday was Veteran's Day, or maybe it's a sign of things to come.
Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC) needs just one more win after defeating Tennessee 50-17 to be bowl eligible. Larry Rountree III and Ish Witter combined for 371 yards and two touchdowns on 42 attempts, and have emerged as an excellent duo in the backfield.
This was the first game that two Missouri running backs rushed for over 100 yards in the same game since, you guessed it, last year against Tennessee. Witter amassed a career-high 216 yards in what will be his last game at Memorial Stadium.
The Missouri defense allowed only 237 total yards and 10 points while forcing three turnovers, but what was most impressive was its work behind the line of scrimmage. The unit compiled four sacks and six tackles for loss.
Marcell Frazier had two sacks while Tre Williams and Joshua Bledsoe had one each. Anthony Sherrills had himself a day with 6 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble.
Mizzou opened up against the Volunteers (4-6, 0-6 SEC) using the same gameplan that it did last week to rout Florida. Following a quick three and out to start the game, the Tigers ran the ball on six of eight plays on their next drive.
Witter looked strong on the possession with six carries for 70 yards and three rushes that went for 10 yards or longer. He capped it off with a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle to give Missouri a 7-0 lead.
After a stop by his defense, Drew Lock threw his ritualistic early interception on a bad read over the middle. Nigel Warrior jumped the route and picked the ball off before reversing the field and taking it back for a 70-yard touchdown. Tennessee appeared to jump offsides on the play, but no flag was thrown.
Lock responded well by hitting Emanuel Hall in stride for a 31-yard touchdown to retake the lead. It was a beautiful ball that had to be thrown perfectly to avoid the corner and safety who were draped all over Hall.
The Vols cut the lead to four points with a 48-yard field goal by Aaron Medley after Kaleb Prewett dropped what would have been the easiest interception of his life. Mizzou led 14-10 after the first quarter.
Rountree III broke what appeared to be a touchdown run, but it was called back on a holding penalty. The Tigers settled for a 41-yard field goal by Tucker McCann to extend their lead back to seven points.
Tennessee responded with a 15 play, 66-yard drive that ran off 6:04 of game clock and tied the game with a 19-yard touchdown grab by Ethan Wolf. Freshman quarterback Will McBride got blown up as he threw the ball, but somehow managed to find Wolf wide open in the back of the end zone.
With just over a minute to spare, Missouri had to work quickly if it wanted to put points on the board before halftime. It seemed fine with taking a tie game into halftime when it handed the ball off to Rountree III on third and seven. Yeah, so much for that. Rountree III exploded past the Volunteer defenders and raced down the left sideline for a 64-yard rush. The scamper put Mizzou in excellent position to score, and Rountree III punched in a one-yard score to make it 24-17 Tigers at half.
The Tigers offense didn’t go without its weekly bomb from Lock to Hall. Early in the third quarter, Hall beat the Tennessee defense on a post route and Lock floated it right into his hands for a 50-yard touchdown.
Hall finished with 5 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and would have had an even better night if it weren’t for two uncharacteristic drops. He now has 31 catches for 706 yards and 6 touchdowns in eight games.
Not to be outdone, J’Mon Moore fought through a Volunteer defender and stiff armed another on his way to a 23-yard touchdown later in the third quarter. Moore had been quiet for much of the night, but the catch made him the sixth all-time leader in receiving yards in Missouri history.
Mizzou turned interceptions by Sherrils and Kaleb Prewett into 6 points on two Tucker McCann field goals in the third and fourth quarters. After a strip-fumble by Sherrils, Johnathon Johnson caught a 20-yard touchdown catch. Lock completed only 13 of 28 passes, but four of them were touchdowns.
Missouri goes on the road next week to face off against Vanderbilt. The Commodores are coming off a 44-21 loss to Kentucky.
Check out our postgame thoughts:
Missouri pounds Tennessee into submission by a score of 50-17. Let the discussionPosted by Rock M Nation on Saturday, November 11, 2017