Eight drives. Eight three and outs. One big meltdown against Kentucky.
The offensive performance in the second half of Missouri’s loss to the Wildcats has been analyzed enough already, but I’m going back to it one more time. It was the main reason the Tigers lost the game, after all.
Remember when Alabama coach Nick Saban said Missouri had one of the best offenses in the country? The second half Saturday probably has Saban re-thinking his words.
The Tigers had been efficient through two quarters, holding an 11-point lead and putting up 200 total yards of offense while limiting Kentucky to just three points. As had been the perception heading into the game, Missouri looked like the better offense.
Then, well, you all know the story.
Missouri converted not one, not two, not three but zero first downs throughout the final two quarters while Kentucky converted 13. The Tigers’ star quarterback, Drew Lock, completed just 6 of 11 passes for 35 of Missouri’s 49 total yards in the half. Meanwhile, Terry Wilson and Gunner Hoak combined for 185 yards in the air in the half, with Wilson going 6-for-6 on the game-winning drive.
Maybe Wilson got bailed out on the last second defensive pass interference call, maybe he didn’t. Controversial calls are made all the time.
It might have kept Missouri from winning the game Saturday, but it sure wasn’t the reason the Tigers lost.
Penalty problems come back to bite Missouri
Against Memphis, the Tigers were flagged 12 times for 122 yards.
I wrote at the time that, in closer games against better opponents, these penalties would spell doom for Missouri. On Saturday, that prediction came to fruition.
The Tigers were flagged another eight times for 69 yards against Kentucky, which would have been higher had the Wildcats not declined a holding penalty early in the third. Giving a team like Memphis that many yards in penalties was negated by the stellar play of Missouri against a lesser opponent. Against a ranked team like Kentucky, it wasn’t going to be easy to make up for those penalties.
And like we all know, it was a penalty that ultimately decided this one.
Wilson dropped back on the last play of the game from the Tigers’ 10 and threw to Ahmad Wagner in the back left corner of the end zone. The ball fell to the ground out of play to seemingly preserve Missouri’s win, but a pass interference call on DeMarkus Acy gave the Wildcats one more chance.
A two-yard touchdown pass sealed the Tigers’ fate, and now we are still here trying to process the loss.
Other notable Week 9 stats
- Kentucky isn’t known for having an all-world offense, but they do have the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher in Benny Snell Jr. Missouri’s defenders, though, made sure someone else beat them. The Tigers held Snell to just 67 yards on 19 carries — his second-lowest total of the season — for an average of just 3.5 yards-per-carry.
- Missouri’s running back trio — which had looked like the strength of the offense this season — didn’t fare any better Saturday. Damarea Crockett, Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie combined for 105 yards on 30 carries, with Crockett and Rountree punching in one touchdown apiece.
- Everyone loves a Corey Fatony stat, right? The senior punted nine times for 436 yards, both his highest totals in 2018. Five of them fell inside Kentucky’s 20 and four went for over 50 yards.