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Missouri Secondary Has its Hands Full with Tagovailoa

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The sophomore quarterback leads the nation in passing efficiency and completion percentage.

Louisiana v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

So, you know that guy who came in the second half of last year’s National Championship game and quarterbacked Alabama to an overtime victory? The top-ranked five-star from Marcus Mariota’s high school in Hawaii? The nation’s leader in completion percentage (75.2) and pass efficiency (258.4), all while not throwing an interception?

Yeah, the 116th-ranked Missouri secondary faces him this upcoming Saturday... in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Someone remind me what the NCAA record is for passing yards in a game.

Oh, yeah. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Washington State’s Connor Halliday both threw for 734 yards in a game.

In all seriousness, Tagovailoa is the Heisman favorite right now, and is surely licking his chops for this upcoming matchup. Opposing quarterbacks complete just under 60 percent of their passes (106th in FBS) and throw for 284.8 yards per game (116th in FBS) against Missouri.

The Tigers’ secondary has especially struggled against the three Power-Five conference quarterbacks they’ve faced.

Purdue’s David Blough broke the school record of passing yards in a game with a 572 yard performance in which he completed 70.9 percent of his passes and tossed three touchdowns.

Georgia’s Jake Fromm went 13-for-23 (56.5 percent) for 260 yards and three touchdowns.

South Carolina backup Michael Scarnecchia completed 20 of 35 passes for 249 yards and three scores. In a hurricane.

Now, here’s how Tagovailoa has fared thus far:

Even Missouri head coach Barry Odom said Tagovailoa is “playing out of his mind.”

I would dive deeper into their rushing game (222.2 ypg, 5.44 ypc), but why would Alabama do anything but pass the football?

Missouri’s only hope in limiting the Crimson Tide offense comes with the pass-rush. Tre Williams, Terez Hall and Terry Beckner Jr. will have to dominate the Alabama offensive line (good luck with that) and get to Tagovailoa constantly. If they can make him uncomfortable in the pocket and contain him from running outside, it’s possible the Tigers can turn the game into a close offensive shootout.

The Missouri defense has to step up in a big way Saturday — it’s the Tigers’ only hope in pulling off a monumental upset against the nation’s best scoring offense (56 ppg).