All I remember about the lead-up to Mizzou’s game against Ole Miss was feeling extremely paranoid.
Hmm. Now that I think about it, I believe I was super paranoid before every single game. So I guess disregard that. Still, it’s never a particularly comfortable feeling when you demolished a team the year before (the Tigers beat the Rebels 34-7 in Columbia in 2006) and then have to go to their place. Ole Miss was desperate for traction under third-year head coach Ed Orgeron, and while the Rebels simply weren’t good enough to hang around — they had barely beaten Memphis the week before and would beat just Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State the rest of the way — things started pretty well for the home team. Or its defense, at least.
The first five possessions of the game: Ole Miss punt, Mizzou punt, Ole Miss punt, Mizzou punt, Ole Miss punt. For most of the first quarter, this was a field position battle, with neither offense finding a favorable situation.
That changed when Mizzou took over at its 45 with 2:56 left. Chase Daniel rushed for 14 yards, then completed three short passes for another first down. Tony Temple pulled off maybe his first good rush of the season down to the Ole Miss 19, and two Jeremy Maclin touches generated 10 yards. This was egalitarian perfection, with everybody getting in on the dink-and-dunk action.
The second quarter was much more pleasant. On the first play, Daniel found Will Franklin for a 10-yard score on third down. Ole Miss went three-and-out, and Franklin scored on a 40-yard bomb. Ole Miss drove to the Mizzou 12 but lost a fumble (this defense was as opportunistic as any in Tiger history), and Mizzou drove 93 yards in just six plays. Martin Rucker took a short pass, broke a tackle, and outraced a charging safety to the end zone. In 10 minutes, the score had gone from 0-0 to 21-0.
Ole Miss was beginning to find its rhythm on offense, however, so this would turn into a bit of a shootout. The Rebels scored with 1:09 left in the half, but after a strong Maclin kick return, Daniel completed passes to Franklin, Chase Coffman, Franklin, Maclin, and, finally, Coffman for a seven-yard score. 28-7 at halftime.
The first three plays of the second half:
- A seven-yard run by Temple.
- A 26-yard run by Temple.
- A 37-yard touchdown strike from Daniel to Greg Bracey.
Ballgame. Sort of. To their credit, the Rebels kept charging forward and made palms at least a little bit clammy in the fourth quarter. They cut the lead to 38-25 early in the fourth quarter, then forced a punt and drove to the Mizzou 25.
The Tiger defense finally stiffened. On third-and-6 from the Mizzou 21, Hardy Ricks stuffed Marshay Green for a four-yard loss, and on fourth down, Seth Adams fired incomplete to Hodge. Mizzou had packed it in offensively, and Ole Miss mounted one more drive, but Justin Garrett picked off a pass at the Tiger 4 to finally wrap things up.
The final three entries of my Mizzou Sanity live blog:
8:18 - First down at the Mizzou 21. Kelly: "Mizzou's going to go to 2-0, folks." GOOD FREAKING LORD, MIKE. HAVE YOU HEARD OF ON-SIDE KICKS?? I realize we're probably going to win, but...good freaking lord.
8:19 - Justin Garrett intercepts the pass at the 4. NOW you can say they're going to win.
8:20 - Daniel takes the knee, and that's ballgame. 38-25. Mizzou moves to 17-7-1 all-time against the SEC. Mizzou's 2-0, just like they were supposed to be, but...to put it mildly, they still haven't figured out how to land the knockout punch. Whatever. What did we all say last week? A win's a win? Sounds good to me.
At this point in the year, Missouri’s strengths and liabilities were obvious. The Tigers’ offense was dynamic and democratic and had posted huge yardage numbers but hadn’t played more than about two good quarters against either Illinois or Ole Miss. That was exciting because of the potential, but at some point, for Mizzou to reach its goals, the offense was going to have to put together longer stretches of quality play.
The defense, meanwhile, was desperately reliant on red zone turnovers. Pig Brown’s goal line fumble recovery and interception saved the day against Illinois, and if not for Darnell Terrell’s second-quarter fumble recovery and Garrett’s interception, this game would have been much dicier as well.
Your statistical standouts:
- Daniel was his typical efficient self: 31-for-42, 330 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions, and just one sack.
- Franklin caught eight balls for 105 yards and two scores. He would get lost in the shuffle at times with this deep 2007 receiving corps, but he was the star on this day.
- Coffman and Rucker combined for 10 catches, 118 yards, and two scores. Rucker was the load bearer early on until other Tiger weapons got rolling.
- Tony Temple carried 17 times for 123 yards, getting back on track after a tough first week.
- Lorenzo Williams had two tackles for loss and a sack, while Sean Weatherspoon broke up a couple of passes and Darnell Terrell had a pair of breakups and a fumble recovery.
At this point, Mizzou was playing like a dangerous, top-25 level team. That would change.