College football is weird.
Yes, when you have a good team and a bad team, it’s a pretty good bet that the good team should win. But that’s not what always happen.
Earlier Saturday, No. 6 Wisconsin, who was 6-0 and had College Football Playoff aspirations, lost on a last-second field goal in a stunning loss to the previously 2-4 Illinois. In one fell swoop, the Fighting Illini might’ve ended the Badgers’ national championship hopes. So when you have a No. 22 Missouri on the road for the first time in six weeks against a 1-5 Vanderbilt team that just lost to UNLV a week ago, it’s entirely plausible that weird things are going to happen.
The Tigers played their worst game of the season against the Commodores on Saturday, and even that might be an understatement. Tucker McCann missed two field goals (would have been three had Vanderbilt not committed a roughing the kicker penalty) and Kelly Bryant threw a costly interception in the end zone, and those were the lowest points of Missouri’s (5-2, 2-1 SEC) 21-14 loss to Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC) in Nashville.
Missouri looked like such a great team over the five-game home-stand. The Tigers dominated their opponents for the most part, extending their streak of 30-point games and seemingly moving on from their Week 1 loss to Wyoming.
But Vanderbilt came in with a chip on its shoulder, being a heavy underdog even at home. Missouri overlooked its opponent, and it had detrimental effects.
The first half of the game was by far the Tigers’ worst in 2019.
The Tigers trailed the Commodores 14-7 heading to the half. They had just 164 yards to Vanderbilts 178. McCann had already missed a field goal that would’ve given his team the lead late in the first quarter. Larry Rountree III and the rest of the running back unit could only muster 26 total yards on the ground.
But there were some high points. Linebacker Nick Bolton was all over the place, making tackles and disrupting plays to keep the game close. Bryant hit tight end Albert Okwuegbunam for a 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter, tying up the game and giving Missouri momentum.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, though, took a screen pass 61 yards to the house with 2:06 left in the half and took the wind out of the Tigers’ sails.
Things didn’t get much better in the second half for Missouri.
Rountree did tie up the game with a 6-yard rushing touchdown after linebacker Cameron Wilkins intercepted a pass with 1:37 left in the third quarter, but outside of that, the Tigers second half drives ended in: a punt, an interception, another punt, a third punt and a missed field goal.
The interception probably hurt the most.
McCann had missed a field goal attempt, but he was hit by a Vanderbilt player and Missouri was given another shot. Rountree took a handoff on the next play but was stopped for no gain. On second down, Okwuegbunam broke to the left side of the end zone and Bryant lofted it up for him. The Commodores’ Allan George watched Bryant’s eyes the entire time, though, and he picked off the overthrown pass before Okwuegbunam could push him out of bounds.
The offense looked completely lost all day, and the defense — who had played well in the first half — couldn’t get key stops late in the second half as Missouri tried to get the ball back and attempt to tie up the score
Safety Tyree Gillespie also committed a terrible penalty, hitting Vanderbilt quarterback Mo Hasan with the crown of his helmet as Hasan was sliding to the ground. The referees called Gillespie for targeting, and the call was upheld after review.
Hasan’s replacement, Riley Neil, ended up being a key factor in the win, hitting Cam Johnson for a touchdown with 8:57 to play to put the Commodores up to stay.
Overall, nothing clicked. There was no rhythm for the Tigers throughout this game. Missouri didn’t look like the team that had just been on a five-game win streak.
It was that kind of day for the Tigers.