My step-brother was 6-foot-5. I was 5-foot-nothing. He was a tremendous athlete. I was not. He was in high school. I was in elementary school. He beat me every. single. time. When we played basketball. It was like clockwork. Heck, it was rare occasion when I could score a basket on him.
That’s the way it was supposed to be.
That’s what Missouri’s win against Vanderbilt felt like. The Tigers are the more talented team. They have the better coach. They invest more in the program. That was a game they should have won. And they took care of business exactly the way they were supposed to.
Let’s get to the top five takeaways from Missouri’s business-like victory over the Commodores.
1) I’m really going to miss watching Nick Bolton and Larry Rountree
The Tigers are in good hands moving forward. Eli Drinkwitz is the right coach for the program, and we’re starting to see some of the young talent get opportunities. More on that in a moment. But I want to start off by showing some appreciation for two of the most veteran players on the Tigers.
Bolton and Rountree were absolutely spectacular. Again.
Rountree finished with his third highest single game rushing output (160 yards), and his second most scrimmage yards (183) in a single game. His three rushing touchdowns tied a career-high.
It was more of the same for Bolton. A ho-hum nine tackle, one sack, two tackles-for-loss with a near-interception. For most players, that would be something close to a career day. For Bolton, it’s just another in a long line of remarkable performances.
These two will go down as two of the best Tigers of the last 20 years. Rountree is the team’s all-time leading rusher not named Brad Smith. Bolton will go down as a potential Mount Rushmore MU defensive player of the last 20 years.
I wish we could have another year of watching both players, but they’re on to bigger and better things. The 2020 college football season has been a bit of a mess, but it’s been a pleasure to watch both of them. Enjoy every moment we get. This year more than ever, it’s hard to know if it could be the last time we see them strap up.
2) Connor Bazelak just put together a really boring 300-yard passing game
I don’t say that as a shot. Bazelak was unbelievably efficient. I remember looking up at one point in the first half and saying, “Wait, Tauskie Dove has 60 receiving yards?!” It happened out of nowhere. 10 yards here, 12 there. They paper cut the Vanderbilt defense to death with the short-to-intermediate passing game.
It wasn’t perfect. Bazelak missed a couple throws, and one that stands out is the 4th and three pass to Barrett Banister. Dove had a drop on a quick slant. But it’s hard to complain about another 80 percent completion percentage game with more than 300 yards through the air.
I also want to give credit where it’s due; Keke Chism has really stepped up in the last three weeks. Chism’s start to the season certainly didn’t go as anyone expected. He had just four receptions in the Tigers first three games. He seemed to find his groove late in the Florida game, and it’s translated in the last two games.
Chism now has 16 receptions for 192 yards against Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. That’s the kind of production everyone was excited to see after his coaches and teammates alike threw so much praise his way during fall camp. It’s good to see him getting more involved. Credit to Bazelak for finding him, too.
3) So, maybe it’s important to have a healthy offensive line?
The Tigers’ offensive line has been like a game of musical chairs over the last few weeks. Starting right tackle Larry Borom and left guard Xavier Delgado have been out with injuries. Dylan Spencer decided to transfer to Jackson State to be closer to home. The running game was thrown into a bit of flux as a result.
That certainly changed on Saturday. Borom and Delgado were back, and they made a huge difference along the offensive line.
4th straight game with a tuddy.@LRountreeIII is a problem for SEC defenses.— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) November 28, 2020
https://t.co/5Zkiz0nSoH#MIZ x #NewZou pic.twitter.com/x69csWsRDt
Borom very well may be one of the three or four best players on the Missouri football team. He blew open some massive holes on at least two of Rountree’s three touchdowns. It’s good to have those guys back. They’re going to be important if the Tigers can get a win next week against Arkansas.
4) The future looks pretty bright for the Tigers
There will be plenty of time to discuss this as we get closer to the offseason, but it’s been nice to see Drinkwitz mix in some of the young guys over the last couple weeks. Chad Bailey got some time at linebacker in the second half and finished with three tackles. He seems to be the most likely Nick Bolton replacement for next season.
Elijah Young showed what he can do in limited action, finishing the game with four carries for 52 yards. That kid runs hard. Young and Badie have the potential to be a dynamic one-two punch next season.
Really great to see former South-Doyle standout Elijah Young (@elijahyoung52 ) balling out in the SEC. pic.twitter.com/8gu3sBiW4e— Shawn (@ShawnFinchum) November 28, 2020
Lastly, true freshman quarterback Brady Cook saw some action late in the game and threw his first career touchdown. Fun fact: Cook threw more touchdown passes against Vanderbilt than Bazelak! Do we have a quarterback controversy?! (Kidding).
Kudos to the kids for taking advantage of their opportunities. The future looks bright.
5) History is made in Columbia
If you’re reading this, you probably watch a lot of college football. It’s not everyday you get to see something that has quite literally never happened before. It’s even more rare that you see a barrier knocked down.
All of that and so much more took place on Saturday at Memorial Stadium as Sarah Fuller made history as the first woman to play in a power five football game.
Fuller is an all-conference goalie for the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team. She and the Commodores just returned back in Nashville as the SEC Tournament champs when Derek Mason reached out about kicking for the football team. Vandy’s special teams were decimated due to COVID-related issues.
Sarah Fuller becomes the first woman to appear in a Power 5 football game, kicking off to start the second half Vanderbilt's game at Missouri.— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) November 28, 2020
The Mizzou crowd applauded as she kicked.
(Photo via SEC Media portal.) pic.twitter.com/YXeI5ELmLO
It’s not easy to find a kicker on late notice with an empty campus. Fuller stepped up, and she made the most of it. Wearing a “Play Like A Girl” message on her helmet, she made her debut on the second half kickoff. Vanderbilt didn’t get in position for Fuller to kick a field goal, but she said after the game she hopes she has an opportunity to do so if she gets another opportunity next week.
Forget the field goals, though. What a moment that was. For Fuller. For women everywhere. For little girls sitting next to their mothers and fathers who saw someone who looked like them doing something they have never seem someone look like them do. That matters. And it was special to see it happen in Columbia in front of Mizzou fans who stood and cheered as Fuller took the field to kick the ball.
Today we saw something we’ve never seen before. That’s a moment I’ll never forget. Vanderbilt might have lost the game, but Sarah Fuller certainly won the day.