Was that weird or was it just me?
The pace of the first half really seemed to favor Ole Miss. They were able to work the clock and shorten the game. Missouri had four real opportunities with the ball, thanks to a muffed punt from Johnathan Johnson, they were able to score on three of them. But a missed extra point and two field goals leaves a score where it feels uncomfortably close. The halftime box:
The difference right now comes down to a few plays. The first was Johnson’s muffed punt, which gave the ball back to the Rebels, who capitalized. The second was at the end of the half, with the clock ticked down, the Mizzou defense held on a 4th and goal at the one. Here is the play.
The Missouri offense was good, but not crisp. The Mizzou defense was also good, and also not crisp. They’ve been elite so far this year on 3rd down and the Rebels are 7/12 for 58% conversion rate. They’ve struggled to contain J.R. Plumlee on the run but only sporadically, and it’s allowed him to extend drives which has largely negated the Tigers good work on 1st and 2nd down.
The offense has put up 211 yards so far. The running game has two ball carriers with 5.5 and 6.3 yards per carry next to their name. Ole Miss has been good this year against the run, and Mizzou has found success on the ground. It’s going to come down to converting their scoring opportunities into touchdowns instead of field goals.
The important part here is the Tigers get the ball to start the second half. It’s important to take the momentum of the 4th down stop and convert your first drive, if only to put a little distance between you and the Rebels.
Overall this feels like a game where Missouri is the better football team. But they’ve played just sloppy enough to allow the Rebels to stay in the game. If they control the punt on the first possession, and convert one touchdown instead of a field goal it would certainly be more comfortable. But they’re one touchdown and a stop away from getting the separation they need.