The Missouri Tigers had a chance on Saturday, albeit a small one, to salvage its 2019 season from the mounting disappointment that has come with each of the past three games.
That obviously didn’t work out. An anemic offense offset a solid defense, and a lack of discipline ultimately doomed any chance of an upset. With their loss to the No. 11 Florida Gators, the Tigers dropped to 5-5 overall and 2-4 in the SEC.
I should say that there’s no shame in losing to a ranked Florida team, even if the Tigers previously did have a streak of good fortune when facing them the last few years. These Gators are well-coached, have an elite defense and an offense that does enough to get by. In an alternate universe, they’re what this year’s Missouri Tigers might look like.
The way the loss came about, though? That’s the discouraging part. Despite an 11:00 a.m. kick-off, a very respectable crowd of 57,280 showed up at Faurot Field on Saturday to watch their Tigers — that’s an astounding number considering how poorly the Tigers have played over the past month.
How did the team respond, then, to this show of support? Not by showing out for their fans. They responded by playing undisciplined football.
Penalties, penalties, penalties. Does this sound like a broken record to anyone else?
Missouri committed 1,000,000 penalties for 1,000,000,000 yards... or at least that’s what it felt like. I mean, how often do you see one player commit three penalties in one play?
One player. Three penalties. On one play. Let that sink in.
There was no bigger penalty, though, than Albert Okwuegbunam’s unsportsmanlike foul that negated an automatic Missouri first down in the opening drive of the second half. At this point, the score was still 6-3 and the Tigers were holding on to shreds of hope. After this gaffe, though, the Tigers were forced to punt and the Gators scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to take a 13-3 lead.
Of course, officiating wasn’t up to the standard anyone would prefer. The one time Missouri made a big play to potentially turn things around, this happened.
Catch or interception? pic.twitter.com/E7jF6EOraz— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) November 16, 2019
I mean, come on. The officials got this one wrong, and it was such an important call.
Still, it’s not as if the Tigers didn’t have other opportunities to get back into the game. A near pick-six by Nick Bolton almost made it a 13-10 ballgame. But, he dropped it. DeMarkus Acy nearly picked off Trask at one point, but couldn’t get his hands under the ball. Was it a tough play? Most definitely. But those are the types of opportunities that great teams take advantage of, and Missouri proved on Saturday that it wasn’t capable.
There’s not much else left to say at this point. This season has pretty much slipped into a total collapse. There are two games remaining in the regular season, but what will wins over Tennessee and Arkansas really do, aside from make the Tigers eligible for a middling bowl game (pending the NCAA ruling)? Even winning those games won’t take away the bad taste left in our mouths from a season that “coulda-woulda-shoulda” been.
On Saturday, Missouri had the chance to reclaim some of the dignity lost their October slide. When you think about it, though, a host of unsightly penalties and a handful of missed opportunities feels far more indicative of the 2019 season.