Texas A&M came to Columbia fresh off of the biggest win of the Jimbo Fisher era and were looking to keep the positive momentum rolling. Missouri was in need of a season-changing victory to right the ship.
The Aggies got what they wanted. Mizzou did not.
The Tigers opened with the ball, and opted to come out throwing. Bazelak got a couple of completions under his belt, but then an overthrow turned into an interception that gave TAMU the ball deep in Mizzou territory.
The Tigers forced a 3rd and goal, but Calzada stayed patient and converted through the air. This early touchdown really took the upset-minded momentum from Mizzou out of the game. With a Bazelak interception and an easy Aggie touchdown, things could not have started out much worse for the Tigers.
An ensuing 3-and-out from the the offense did not make matters better, and Texas A&M drove right down the field on the next drive. Isaiah Spiller found massive holes where he wanted, and it led to a 48-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to two scores.
For all the running room that Tyler Badie found last week, he could not find any against that vaunted Texas A&M defensive line. The struggles in the run game threw off the offensive game plan all day long.
A pass interference call extended the next TAMU drive on 3rd and 7, and the Aggies would just continue to pound away with the rushing attack. On 3rd and 15, Devon Achane was able to run into the end zone without being touched to make it 21-0.
It was clear: Texas A&M was content with just running the ball to a win, and there was nothing Mizzou could do to stop it.
Another Missouri interception put TAMU back in scoring position. Bazelak’s confidence was clearly rattled early, and receivers were getting little separation.
“(Winning a game like this) starts with not turning the ball over twice in the first quarter for 14 points,” Drinkwitz explained. “Also have to be better on third downs on defense.”
The Tigers got their first stop of the game after Seth Small missed a field goal, but another penalty halted a promising drive.
The defense would stand tall again, and the Tiger offense finally broke through. A clutch 3rd down conversion to JJ Hester extended the drive, and a pass interference call on the Aggies put Mizzou in scoring position. From there, Tyler Badie finally was given a hole to run through, and he took it to the crib from 22 yards out. The scoreline read 21-7, and momentum was for the first time in Missouri’s favor.
Mizzou had a chance to get a stop on the ensuing drive, but yet again, penalties bailed the Aggies out. That would prove to be costly, as the Aggies would drive down the field and score to bring the lead back up to 21.
“Before we can win a championship, we got to keep from beating ourselves,” Drinkwitz said after the game.
Connor Bazelak appeared to be hobbled coming off the field after being dragged down late in the second quarter.
Jaylon Carlies turned things around with an interception in the red zone, giving Mizzou the ball back with a minute and a half left.
“Just wanna give our D-line some credit for that,” Carlies explained. “There was also good coverage on the backend so I could undercut the route.”
The Tigers would opt to run out the clock, receiving plenty of boos from the crowd for doing so.
Mizzou got the stop they needed coming out of the second half, and the offense responded. Bazelak completed a couple nice passes, Badie finally found some consistent holes to run through, a reverse to Dominic Lovett capped off the Tigers’ best drive of the day to make it 28-14.
Mizzou got A&M into a 2nd and 27 situation on the next drive, but you guessed it, another penalty and a breakdown in coverage allowed the Aggies to convert. Devon Achane would punch it in from a couple yards out to bring the lead back to 21, taking a lot of wind out of the sails of Missouri and their comeback efforts.
After a Mizzou punt, Texas A&M drove down the field for a field goal. However, Seth Small was short on another kick, giving Missouri some life.
Dominic Lovett was being used in the rushing game today for the first time all season, and it remained effective. He started the next drive with a first down run, and the drive progressed well into Texas A&M territory. Still, the Aggies turned up the pressure on Bazelak and were in his face three plays in a row to force a punt.
The remainder of the game would dwindle away as TAMU ran out the clock, and Missouri could not mount anymore threatening drives.
The themes of the season continued. Spiller and Achane could run wherever they wanted against the Missouri defense with little resistance, and Connor Bazelak still looked a bit off, whether that be a mental thing or due to being banged up. The additions to the problems today was the fact that the Aggie defensive line mauled the Mizzou O-line, leaving Tyler Badie with no room to operate. The engine that makes the Missouri offense go barely got started today. On top of all of that, penalties were killers. They had 13 of them for 106 yards, a lot of which came in key scenarios.
“This is a part of the building process at Mizzou, I realize last year we probably overachieved.” Drinkwitz stated. “I wish success was always linear but it's not, I’m trying to establish a culture, and you can’t skip any steps.”
A 3-4 overall record and a 0-3 conference record now stares this team in the face. A disappointing start to say the least, but the message is the same across the board.
“At the end of the day we got to keep moving forward,” Tyler Badie explained. “We can’t stay stuck in the past.”
Mizzou will get a bye week before they travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt on October 30th.