With about five minutes to go in the third quarter and the ball placed on their own 46 yard line, Missouri was about to take complete control of the game. After muffing a punt on the opening drive and giving up a subsequent touchdown, the Tigers had scored 21 straight points on five different scores — I know it’s weird, but two touchdowns with missed extra points and three field goals still equals 21 points. Then Kelly Bryant handed the ball off to 3rd string running back Dawson Downing, who burst through a big hole on the left side of the line, rumbled down to the 10 yard line when an Ole Miss defender was able to wrap him up. Downing, in the arms of a Rebel safety, stretched and pulled and dragged his body to the within the goal line and then found another few inches to stretch just enough to get the ball into the end zone.
Missouri snapped the ball with 5:18 to play in the third quarter, and for eight seconds, everything was beautiful. Dawson scored to put Mizzou up 28-7. Then Ole Miss stepped in and things got weird for a bit, but it ended the way we wanted. If you haven’t caught on, this play is a metaphor for the entire game. Missouri was in control for the bulk of the game, Ole Miss stepped in and made things weird at times, but in the end the Tigers didn’t allow the Rebels inside of two scores after stopping them on a 4th and goal up 12-7 in the first half. Ole Miss made all of us sweat a little; they have the ability to roll out a dynamic offense with two very good quarterbacks.
It’s almost too bad — for Ole Miss fans that is — you can’t combine Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee into one guy, because that would be scary. Plumlee throws the ball just well enough to be a threat, and Corral runs the ball just well enough to be a threat, but neither guy scares a defense when they’re moving away from their strength. Facing either is difficult enough on its own, and I expect the Rebels will be a tough out the rest of the year, and in the future. Particularly if they can get the defense figured out.
But sometimes, just when you think you’ve figured out your team, there’s a curveball. The Tigers’ defense has been a monster this season, and their leader was on the sideline all game. Cale Garrett might’ve been able to fill some of the holes the defense left open, but on a lot of plays it felt like Plumlee just ran away from the defender. But while there was certainly some bending, the defense was there when it needed to be. Three of the last four drives weren’t great, but for the first eight drives the per play average for the Rebels — a good offense — was 3.98.
From the word go, until Missouri was up 28-7, the defense was excellent. They gave the Missouri offense the time they need to get in rhythm. So are the last four drives what you should concern yourself with, moreso than the first eight?
I don’t know.
I tend to think that despite your best preparations, things never go as planned and it’s all how you handle the twists and turns that define your season. Since an incredibly gut-wrenching loss on the road to a so-so Wyoming team, Missouri has gone 5-0 and they’ve answered every question. They’ve had problems with penalties, issues with special teams, and significant injuries. But they keep stepping up to answer.
Now we look at a Sunday nearing the middle of October and Missouri should be ranked in the AP poll today. If you want to still roll around in the what-ifs of this team taking care of their business in Laramie and when they would’ve been ranked, have at it.
The Tigers should be ranked today, and for the rest of the season. They’re also in sole possession of first place of the SEC East, and more than any team in the division, control their own destiny. Whether or not the bowl ban is lifted doesn’t matter. The Tigers can win the SEC East by taking care of business against the rest of the schedule.
Up next, Vanderbilt.
Here’s the box if you wanted to see it:
Other SEC Scores:
- Kentucky 24, Arkansas 20
- UNLV 34, Vanderbilt 10
- Tennessee 20, Mississippi State 10
- South Carolina 20, Georgia 17
- Alabama 47, Texas A&M 28
- LSU 42 , Florida 28
Yesterday at Rock M Nation:
- Missouri vs Ole Miss football GameDay: info, where to watch, predictions & homecoming
- Sean Weatherspoon knows who would win in a game between the 2007 and 2013 Tigers
- Bottom’s Up! What are you drinking for Homecoming?
- GAME THREAD: Missouri hosting Ole Miss for 108th Homecoming
- Halftime Thoughts: Missouri stumbles but finishes half ahead 12-7
- Missouri fights off Ole Miss on Homecoming
- Gabe DeArmond’s game story
- Dave Matter’s game story
- KCStar’s Adam Cole wrote a game story
- Columbia Missourian Liam Quinn’s game story
- If you’re looking to sign up for ESPN+, Rock M Nation now has an affiliate link: click Here for ESPN+ Now!
- Also, a heads up: The FanPulse emails should be out by now. YOUR Missouri Tigers are one of the teams listed and they’ve fallen short of the top 25 the last few weeks. Please vote them up! This is a top 25 team.