Drew Lock was hit as he threw midway through the second quarter. The ball seemed to fall harmlessly to the turf, but after a pause, Auburn's Marlon Davidson scooped it up and ran 33 yards to the Missouri 20-yard line.
The play hadn't been blown dead. It was a fumble. After a brief review, the referee’s confirmed the questionable ruling despite both Lock's arm and the ball going forward. Auburn certainly didn't need the extra help, as the Tigers already held a 21-point advantage over Mizzou.
No. 15 Auburn (3-1, 1-0 SEC) blew out the Tigers, 51-14, on Saturday night. Missouri (1-3, 0-2 SEC) has been outscored 117-30 during its three-game losing steak.
Missouri coach Barry Odom let his frustrations show post-game in what he called “the state of the program,” prepping the media with the statement “Pens ready, microphones on, let’s talk real life and where we’re at.”
“I want to get one thing real straight: I’m going to win here. That’s going to happen,” Odom said. “We will win. This is a turnaround, any way you slice it or dice it or want to look at it, this is a turnaround process.”
Odom referenced the 1997-98 Missouri team he played for that made the program’s first back-to-back appearance in bowl games since 1980. “I was part of it, I was in the locker room, I saw it, I was a captain, I know what it takes,” Odom said.
The irate coach also talked about when Gary Pinkel nearly lost his job in 2004 before becoming the winningest coach in Mizzou history. “That was a turnaround. It took time. That’s where we’re at,” Odom said. “I don’t like it, I want to win right now, but that’s not the hand I’m given.”
“We’re not winning games yet, but we will,” Odom said. “I’m the man to go get it done with this staff, with this team, with this program, there’s not anybody left standing after 2015. I am and I know what it takes.”
It remains to be seen if Odom will get the chance to turn this Missouri team around, but you can’t knock him for a lack of passion or effort. He’s confident that he can get the job done, but that won’t matter unless it starts to show on the field.
Auburn was led by Kerryon Johnson, who, despite rushing for only 48 yards on 18 attempts, scored five touchdowns. Jarrett Stidham was an efficient 13-for-17 for 218 yards and a touchdown.
Lock had a decent night, going 23-for-39 for 216 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw a pick and lost that fumble, and those turnovers turned into 14 points for Auburn. “I thought we did a lot of good things today,” Lock said. “The amount of good things just wasn’t enough tonight.”
The Tigers' defense had a blown coverage or missed tackle on almost every other play and allowed 482 total yards. “It’s not schematic errors,” Logan Cheadle said. “It just comes down to people making the play or not making the play. Today we didn’t make many plays at all.”
Auburn didn't take long to get things going against Mizzou. On the Tigers' first snap of the game, Kyle Davis effortlessly lifted over Cheadle and came down with a 58-yard pass by Stidham. They went on to score on a one-yard touchdown run by Johnson.
A deflected Lock pass turned into a Carlton Davis interception and Auburn found itself in scoring position at the Missouri 38. Johnson capped off a quick seven-play drive and picked up his second touchdown on a two-yard scamper to give Auburn a 14-0 lead.
Stidham connected on another long pass early in the second quarter, this time for 46 yards to Will Hastings, before Johnson ran for a one-yard touchdown. After the controversial Lock fumble, Johnson punched in a seven-yard rush for his fourth score of the evening.
At that point Mizzou trailed by 28-0 — the same hole the Tigers found themselves in against Purdue in the second quarter last week. Once again, the Tigers were unable to overcome the large deficit caused by a struggling offense, a defense that looked completely lost and turnovers.
Missouri is at its lowest point in years.
“This ain’t dark days,” Odom said. “This is when the going gets tough, you build in together, you fight together, and you go find a way to get it done. It’s part of a process that’s not going to be easy.”
Missouri has a bye week to collect itself before it travels to Lexington on Oct. 7 to take on Kentucky (3-1, 1-1 SEC) in what will be its first road game of the year.