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Missouri falls to .500 after being overpowered by No. 1 Alabama

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There wasn’t much hope that the Tigers would defeat the Crimson Tide heading into Saturday, but a poor offensive performance led to a beat down at the hands of Alabama.

Missouri v Alabama Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Technically, this game wasn’t over before it started.

As Missouri’s Tucker McCann kicked the ball into the waiting arms of Alabama’s Josh Jacobs to begin the game, the scoreboard still read 0-0. It didn’t take long for the Crimson Tide’s Heisman-favorite quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, to change that.

After Christian Holmes forced a rare incompletion from Tagovailoa to open the drive, Tagovailoa found Jerry Jeudy three steps ahead of Cam Hilton on the next play for an 81-yard touchdown. Just two snaps later, Saivion Smith picked off a Drew Lock pass to Albert Okwuegbunam, and Alabama took a 10-0 lead in under two minutes after a field goal.

So it went that the Crimson Tide (7-0) rolled through the Tigers (3-3) in what had been considered a foregone conclusion, out-gaining the visitors 564 to 212 in total yards, and Missouri fell to .500 after a 39-10 loss to Alabama.

The first quarter was, surprisingly, a lot closer than the final score says.

Despite an early 10-point hole, the Tigers kept the score close on the backs of solid defensive effort in the red zone and efficient offense. The Crimson Tide did get another three points on a 28-yard field goal by Joseph Bulovas, but that was sandwiched between two Missouri scoring drives.

Lock and Larry Rountree III led the Tigers into Alabama territory before Tucker McCann kicked a 43-yard field goal through the uprights. After Bulovas matched it on his field goal, Lock and Tyler Badie drove the ball 73 yards down the field, and Lock capped off the drive with a pinpoint 20-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Knox — out of his team leading 61 receiving yards — to make it a three-point game.

The second quarter, though, started with shades of the first.

Tagovailoa found Irv Smith Jr. on a wide open two-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the quarter, and after Lock fumbled on a ball he should’ve thrown away, Tagovailoa found DeVonta Smith on the very next play for a 13-yard touchdown.

Within five minutes of the start of the quarter, a three-point deficit stretched out to 17 and the wind was completely out of Misssouri’s sail. Bulovas converted on a 20-yarder later in the quarter, and the half ended with the Tigers trailing by 20.

In a halftime interview, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Tagovailoa was playing “okay,” but in reality, he had thoroughly outplayed his counterpart in Lock. Tagovailoa was 12-for-20 in the air for 265 yards and three touchdowns, while Lock threw just 7-for-14 for 110 yards and a single touchdown.

There was still a glimmer of hope as Missouri received the ball to open the second half, but what ensued was the worst offensive quarter in recent Tigers memory.

Missouri racked up a grand total of -1 all-purpose yards, wasting the opportunities afforded by three-straight defensive stops, including the first punt Alabama had been forced into since Sept. 22.

Even after the loss of Terez Hall after he was disqualified on a targeting penalty, the defense almost held the Crimson Tide to a scoreless quarter. Another play on which Lock should’ve gotten rid of the ball on the last play of the quarter, though, ended in a safety and two more Alabama points.

The Tigers looked defeated already at the beginning the fourth quarter, giving up a rushing touchdown to Damien Harris in the opening drive to put Alabama up 29. Missouri was in a battle against time, though, and its next drive took over seven minutes off the clock.

A last ditch effort to score from the Crimson Tide’s red zone ended in Lock’s second interception of the night, and Alabama ran out most of the last six minutes on the clock to send the Tigers packing.