It’s more fun to win when you do so with a dominant offensive performance. The LSU win, in particular, stands out in this regard. The Tigers dominated offensively, and it didn’t much matter what the defense did until the final play of the game. That’s a heck of a lot more fun to watch than a game that ends 17-10 with Missouri’s offense completely stalling out in the second half.
It doesn’t matter. A win is a win is a win. They all count the same. Wins against South Carolina are always nice. I don’t care if it’s 17-10 or 34-3. In a season like this, just get the win. The Tigers did exactly that. They passed the test. That’s all we can ask for.
With that said, let’s get to my top five takeaways from Missouri’s bounce back win in the other Columbia.
1) Nick Bolton put together another performance for the ages
14 tackles, eight solo tackles and two tackles for loss. It’s a ho-hum game for Nick Bolton. It’s an all-world game for most other players in the country. It was Bolton’s third game with at least 14 tackles. Kentrell Brothers and Sean Weatherspoon are the only other Missouri defenders in the last 20 years with at least three games of 14+ total tackles.
It was also Bolton’s third game with double digit tackles and multiple tackles for loss. Terez Hall and Weatherspoon are the only other players to do so.
Nick Bolton hates your run game pic.twitter.com/4YJ4nhmBzP— Represent Mizzou (@RepresentMizzou) November 22, 2020
Bolton is making the extraordinary seem ordinary. He just played a dominant game against a “rival” for Missouri. I don’t want to lose sight of that.
The Tigers have just three games remaining this season. These are the last three games we’ll have the pleasure of watching Bolton in a Missouri uniform. Enjoy it. He’s going to go down as one of the best Tigers defenders of the last 20 years. It’s been a pleasure to watch him put together his best season yet.
Drinkwitz complimented the leadership of linebacker Nick Bolton and running back Larry Rountree III.— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) November 22, 2020
"Those two guys hold this team together."
2) Eli Drinkwitz got back to his bread and butter with Tyler Badie
Tyler Badie is an incredibly important part of this offense. You wouldn’t know that if you watched the Florida game. Badie finished that game with three touches for a total of three yards. It was strange, given the Tigers were down by two scores at halftime. Badie’s a heck of a player, especially in the passing game. But they never seemed to get him involved.
Drinkwitz corrected that against South Carolina. Badie finished the game with 10 total touches— six carries for 23 yards and four receptions for 54 yards. His involvement in the passing game was huge. Badie converted two critical third downs through the air. Drinkwitz drew up multiple wheel routes (YAY, WHEEL ROUTES!) that got Badie the ball in space.
It’s a low bar to clear, but Drinkwitz utilizing his weapons the way they should be used is refreshing. We haven’t seen that in recent years. The Florida game was frustrating. It was nice to see things get back to normal against South Carolina.
3) Welcome to the show, Keke Chism
We heard so much about Keke Chism over the summer. And then he had a total of four receptions for 64 yards in his first three games. That’s not what any of us were expecting. He’s rebounded in a big way the last two games.
Chism put up five receptions for 68 yards against Florida, and he followed that up with six receptions for 57 yards against the Gamecocks.
He hasn’t been dominant, and it’s still probably not what most Missouri fans were hoping for. But a solid possession receiver who comes up with big-time catches is nice to have. Chism has developed into that in the last couple weeks. I’ll take it.
4) Not this time, South Carolina backup QB
You thought about it. I thought about it. The Tigers were dominating. Then South Carolina went to a backup quarterback in the second half and he started to get things going. Uh oh. We’ve seen this story before. It was seven years ago, and the game was in Missouri, but it happened.
Please don’t let that happen again. It didn’t. Thank goodness.
The Tigers’ defense eventually stepped up and Luke Doty wasn’t able to pull off the upset. It wasn’t the perfect finish, but the Tigers came up with a big stop when they needed it the most.
It’s becoming a recurring theme in Missouri’s wins. The defense has to come up with a stop to secure the win. Devin Nicholson came up with the interception to secure the victory.
5) That was not pretty, but it was effective
This season has brought on unprecedented obstacles for teams. South Carolina just played a game with an interim coach and three of its four defensive backs opting out of the season. The Tigers were straddling the line to have enough scholarship players to play the game. Both teams had plenty of adversity coming into the game.
Welcome to 2020.
Watch: I asked #Mizzou HC Eli Drinkwitz what it means to him to be 3-3 in his first year with all of the uncertainty surrounding the season.— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) November 22, 2020
"I've got a couple of screen shots of people that predicted us to only win two games, so they can have those screen shots back." pic.twitter.com/oaRgQhbxwZ
That was not pretty. At all. The Tigers finished the game with less than 100 rushing yards, fewer than 6.2 yards per pass attempt and they averaged more than seven yards per third down attempt.
They had six drives in the second half. Five resulted in punts. The sixth finished the game. Ugly, ugly, ugly. But it resulted in a win. And that’s all that matters. This season isn’t about winning pretty. It’s about compiling as many wins as possible. Missouri is now 3-3 with games coming up against Arkansas, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Winning six games against exclusively SEC competition is very much in play. That seemed impossible coming into the year.
Hopefully Missouri gets healthy in the next week heading into the Arkansas game. For the time being, we can celebrate the victory and we’re on to Arkansas.