The difference has just been jarring.
- Mizzou yards per play, first 5 games vs. FBS (0-5): Opponent 7.8, Mizzou 5.8 (-2.0)
- Mizzou, last 5 games (5-0): Mizzou 6.6, Opponent 4.4 (+2.2)
The difference is just about as dramatic if you use yards per game (from minus-187 per game to plus-167) or points per game (minus-24 per game to plus-35). Mizzou’s defense has cut its production allowed nearly in half. The national average for yards per play tends to hover in the 5.7 or 5.8 range, so Mizzou went from two yards per play worse than average to more than a yard better than average.
While the Tigers have played lesser opponents in that span (a “good bad schedule,” as the Trib called it), Idaho has averaged 5.3 yards per play for the year, UConn 5.6, Florida 5.3, Tennessee 4.7, and Vanderbilt 5.4. Mizzou has held them at least about a yard per play lower than their average.
That’s good. That’s really good. Sure, drops helped against Vanderbilt and UConn. Sure, Florida’s interim coach made a bone-headed decision to start a worse quarterback simply to make a change. Whatever. Mizzou’s defense has improved dramatically in terms of organization, tackling, taking advantage of turnover chances, attacking up front ... just about every possible category.
On Saturday, Biggest Play honors probably went to Brandon Lee, whose pick six sent Mizzou on its way to an easy win over Vanderbilt.
Or hey, just give the honors to all of those guys and get ready to speculate on bowl bids.
With Saturday’s victory, the Tigers punched their ticket to the postseason and could become a natural fit for the Liberty Bowl, set for Dec. 30 in Memphis, Tenn.
“We know what great fans they have, especially with St. Louis being such a huge alumni base,” Graeter said during halftime as the Tigers led Vandy 35-0. “When we travel, we like to drive to destinations. Like last week I drove to Columbia. It’s an easy trip, and you don’t have to get on an airplane from Columbia or St. Louis to get to Memphis, and that’s important. We certainly know what great fans they have and that Memphis is an attractive destination for them.”
Memphis? Hell yes.
“Some of us joke in the locker room, ‘This winning feeling is nice. We should have done this a long time ago,’ ” offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton said. “But we’re here where we are. We can’t turn back.”
Tramel Raggs was on hand in Nashville and snagged a couple of videos.
More from Mizzou:
More Football Links:
- J’Mon Moore says the Purdue game was the low point for this team, which, um, yes.
- Barry Odom got himself a $50,000 bonus by securing a bowl bid. Win the bowl, that that’s another $25,000.
- Add Josh Bledsoe’s name to the “freshmen making a definitive contribution to the improving Mizzou defense” list.
- Bowls: Drew Lock 1, Dad 0.
- Karissa didn’t win. :( Schweizer had a disappointing run in the NCAA Cross Country championships and finished 11th, 18 seconds off of her pace on the same course a month earlier.
- Tonight at 7 pm: a pre-AdvoCare tuneup. Mizzou Basketball faces Emporia State in a non-exhibition exhibition. Emporia State is not only a Division II team, but also not a particularly great Division II team. Though Reed Nikko’s been awesome thus far, hopefully we see a more focused, less foul-prone Jeremiah Tilmon tonight, just to get a reminder that he can be less foul-prone.
- Mizzou Women’s Hoops isn’t dominating, but they’re winning. The Tigers moved on from a near-upset by Wright State with a solid, 10-point win at Missouri State on Sunday. Jordan Frericks had an off day, so Amber Smith (17 points) and Cierra Porter (eight points, 12 rebounds) stepped up alongside Sophie Cunningham (26 points on just 14 FGA).
- Lovely weekend for Mizzou Volleyball. First, the Tigers took down Mississippi State in four sets in Starkville, absorbing a pretty good effort in the first two sets and then laying the hammer down in the last two. Then, they beat a solid Arkansas in four sets at home on Sunday. Same deal: split the first two sets, run away with the next two. Kira Larson posted a double-double. Mizzou’s now 19-10 overall, 12-4 in conference play, and almost definitely in the NCAA Tournament field. They have also clinched third in the SEC. Good year considering the shaky start.
- Mizzou Wrestling laid waste to the Lindenwood Open.
- Mizzou Swimming & Diving laid waste to the Mizzou Invite.
- New PAPN! I flew solo for the Sunday recap show, walking through why I can’t care about big schools playing cupcakes before rivalry games (and why I’m glad Mizzou doesn’t do it), the S&P+ top 30 (of which Mizzou is a part!), and more.