Mizzou has won four games in a row for the first time in more than two years — the last time: the last game of 2014 and the first three of 2015.
The Tigers had fallen into the 90s in my S&P+ rankings because the offense was merely good and the defense was horrendous. But once Georgia was in the rear view mirror, the defense shored up its breakdowns and started making plays. You can’t really do much until you get the basics down.
“We’ve been focusing on the details,” [Cale] Garrett said. “We’ve been playing physical, and we’ve been playing hard, but focusing on the little things and doing your job when it’s time to make the play has been the key for us lately.”
The Tigers’ four takeaways on Saturday were their most since last year’s Florida game, and they got constant pressure on Tennessee’s young quarterback.
Suddenly, we’re talking about potential bowl destinations. (Memphis: hello.) The Tigers could become only the 13th team to ever attend a bowl after starting 1-5. A lot can change in a month.
The defense and Drew Lock’s own emergence have been key to this turnaround — the schedule has helped, too, yes. But it’s incredible to look back a month and think about our existential dread regarding Damarea Crockett’s absence and the effects it might have on a potential turnaround. Mizzou’s offense was crippled when he missed time in September, and now he’s out just as the winnable games show up on the schedule?
Instead, Mizzou has barely missed Crockett.
- Freshman Larry Rountree III has carried 51 times for 395 yards (7.7 per carry) and four touchdowns over the last four games, His 64-yard explosion completely turned the Tennessee game around late in the first half.
- Senior Ish Witter, meanwhile, is making a Ryan Rosburgian charge late in his senior year. He’s carried 60 times for 413 yards (6.9) and four TDs during the winning streak.
Witter has always been likable for his team-first attitude and work ethic. But wow, has he produced. And his teammates couldn’t be happier for him.
“For him to come out on senior night and ball out the way he did, I’m so happy for him. I love that kid,” offensive guard guard Kevin Pendleton said. “He’s a great dude. I’m so happy for him. He’s got big things ahead of him.”
Per PowerMizzou, Witter needs 256 yards to finish his career in Mizzou’s career top 10. With a bowl, he would almost certainly reach that. Hell, he might not even need the bowl.
Every team needs a damn Ish Witter.
Lots going on right now! Here’s some hoops talk for you.
- First, some video.
- Time for a second impression! Mizzou hosts Wagner tonight at 8 pm CT on ESPN2.
- Sam Mellinger: Looking great without Michael Porter Jr. was pretty much perfect ... as long as MPJ is healthy soon.
- Jeremiah Tilmon totally stole the spotlight on Friday night despite being so nervous that h couldn’t breathe. Only fouls can stop him. And oxygen, I guess.
- Karissa Schweizer, NCAA cross country regional champ. Again. She beat the runner-up by 20 damn seconds. The Mizzou Women finished fourth at regionals (and unfortunately did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAAs), the men seventh.
- Man. Mizzou Volleyball took on No. 4 Florida in Gainesville on SEC Network on Sunday afternoon and gave the Gators a hell of a fight. Florida took the first set easily, but Mizzou won the second and built a 24-21 edge in the third. But UF won five straight points to take the third set, then, predictably, blazed through the demoralized Tigers in the fourth. Still a nice showing for a good Mizzou team.
- Shaky start for Mizzou Women’s Basketball this weekend. The Tigers opened against defending Conference USA champ Western Kentucky and fell, 79-76, despite 49 combined points from Sophie Cunningham and Jordan Frericks. They were 20-for-30 from the field, and all other Mizzou players were 9-for-29. They didn’t have to wait long to respond, though: they took down Quinnipiac, 66-51, on Saturday. The Big Two had 34 points on 12-for-28 shooting in that one; everyone else: 28 points, 10-for-24. Still not great.
- No. 5 Mizzou Wrestling took on three different in-state foes on Sunday — Missouri Valley, Truman State, and Central Missouri — and defeated them by a combined score of 166-(-1). That’s right, minus-1.
- NEW PAPN! Matt Brown and I talk about the S&P+ top 30 (which Missouri is — no joke — threatening to crack with one more great performance), about Ohio State’s high ratings, and about the possibility of a Miami-Oklahoma CFP semifinal, which would make this ‘80s baby’s head explode.