After being given almost no shot, Mizzou showed some grit and kept it respectable against #2 Alabama at Faurot Field on Saturday night.
At the start of the game, Mizzou made an instant statement by forcing a 3&Out in Bama’s first possession. Unfortunately the ensuing offensive possession for the Tigers was also a very abrupt 3&Out that handed the ball right back to Mac Jones and company who proceeded to march down the field and punch it in on a Najee Harris 1-yard run.
When Mizzou got the ball back, promise ensued as the Tigers began to move the ball including a big 23-yard reception by Jalen Knox. However, on a big 4th and 2 play, Shawn Robinson and Larry Rountree III were unable to execute a speed option and ended up turning the ball over on downs.
When Alabama got the ball back they looked like a well-oiled offensive machine scoring on a 4-play, 66-yard drive that included an incredible 46-yard catch, courtesy of Jaylen Waddle. This theme would continue as Mizzou would trail 21-0 before scoring a point.
The otherwise potent Crimson Tide offense stalled early in the second and the Tigers took their opportunity as Shawn Robinson took his guys on 12-play, 50-yard that resulted in a 27-yard FG from Harrison Mevis.
Alabama answered accordingly, however, as Jaylen Waddle caught a 23-yard TD from Mac Jones and the Tigers went into the half trailing 28-3.
The Tigers needed to come out with a strong start to the second half, but after another botched speed option, Alabama was able to block the pitch and recover a fumble in Mizzou territory.
It looked like the Crimson Tide were going to bury the Tigers for good as they proceeded to take a 35-3 lead on another Najee Harris 8-yard TD run. However, something switched for the Tigers as they began to move the ball with much more ease when they got the ball back.
On their next drive, the Tigers would get another Harrison Mevis FG after Shawn Robinson took a bad sack deep in the Alabama redzone. The Tiger defense would also step up as Tre Williams strip-sacked 5-Star Freshman Bryce Young on big 3rd down.
Following a Nick Bolton recovery, the Tiger offense took the field and wasted no time getting to work as Shawn Robinson found Tyler Badie wide open down the sideline on a wheel route for a 54-yard TD cutting the Bama lead to 35-13.
The defense would continue to come up big in the second half after another big 3rd down sack would lead to a Crimson Tide punt. However, the punt that followed ended up being muffed by usual Mr. Reliable Barrett Banister. Alabama recovered in the Tiger redzone and would tack on another field goal making it 38-13.
With about 2 mins left to play, Connor Bazelak entered the game for his second drive after making an extremely questionable 3rd down decision on his first. Despite missing a couple open receivers in his first two pass attempts, Bazelak would end up taking the Tigers on a methodical two minute drill that resulted in a 7-yard TD run by Bazelak as time expired making the final score 38-19.
Although not the closest of matchups, there was plenty to build on for the Tigers. Solid performance selection by Shawn Robinson, Larry Rountree III and Jalen Knox showed plenty of promise for the offense, and the defense did about as good of a job as you could hope in trying to contain Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith.
Both Nick Bolton and Drink expressed concern in the post game press conference about the 3rd down defense after the Bama offense went 9-13 on 3rd downs including key 3rd and long conversions. However, despite this issue, there was a sense of optimism following the Tigers performance.
Drink also expressed a desire to give Larry Rountree more carries after his 17-carry, 68-yard performance against a talented Alabama defense and to add more add more deep balls into the passing attack.
Although they weren’t victorious, tonight’s game showed the Tigers can likely hold their own with anyone in the SEC and next week’s game in Knoxville against the #16 Volunteers could be an opportunity for a possible upset that could build some momentum for the rest of this season.