Well, at least it’s over. That’s all I can muster after Missouri outlasted Vanderbilt in the Tigers’ 37 to 28 win in Nashville.
It shouldn’t have been that close. Vanderbilt is one of the worst teams in the country. Missouri was supposed to be better than this. But expectations don’t mean anything when two teams meet on the field. Vanderbilt played inspired. Missouri, for much of the day, looked tired.
In the end, the Tigers did just enough to pull out a win.
Let’s get into the takeaways.
1) Connor Bazelak was the story of the game, for better or worse
One pass completely changed the narrative of the game for Bazelak. His Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half was enough to give Missouri the lead going into halftime. If not for that throw, it’s hard to imagine an explanation for keeping him in to start the second half. They might have. But that wouldn’t have made it right.
HAIL MARY ALERT— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 30, 2021
Connor Bazelak launches a 45-yard yard ROCKET to Keke Chism to take the lead at the break pic.twitter.com/udyfVWemRB
Other than that miracle throw to Chism, Bazelak was 21-for-27 for 173 yards and one interception. That’s an average of 6.4 yards per attempt. He had another brutal interception. He did next to nothing on the ground. And he did so against one of the worst defenses in the country.
Not great, Bob.
I understand Drinkwitz sticking with his guy. He clearly views Bazelak as the Tigers’ best chance to win. I’m not sure if that says more about Bazelak or Brady Cook and Tyler Macon. If this is the Tigers’ best chance, well, that’s a pretty strong statement against Missouri’s other options.
Drinkwitz: Macon was the choice at QB because of the situation, wanting some QB runs there.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) October 30, 2021
"If it was a different situation Brady would have been the choice."
It’s noteworthy that Macon was the first man up when Bazelak got hurt. Cook had previously been listed as the backup quarterback. It’s hard to know where things go from here. But did you see the play he made on his touchdown? That’s the element he can bring that Bazelak hasn’t. It’s also hard not to notice the way the sideline reacted when he scored. That’s a player who seemingly has the support of his team behind him. Maybe it means nothing. But it was noticeable.
I certainly wouldn’t want Macon’s first extended opportunity to come next week against Georgia. Now we wait to see what Bazelak’s injury status will be.
2) Missouri’s run defense is very much not fixed
Vanderbilt rushed for more yards on Saturday against Missouri than it did in its first four conference games against Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi State... combined.
No, seriously. that happened.
Vanderbilt totaled 256 rushing yards on 2.2 yards per carry in the Commodores’ first four SEC games this season. They posted 258 rushing yards on seven yards per carry against the Tigers.
The last time Vanderbilt rushed for that many yards in a regular season game against an FBS opponent was 2011 when Zac Stacy led the Commodores to a 297 yard rushing day at Wake Forest.
I don’t know what more there is to say about Missouri’s defense. Chad Bailey had some moments on Saturday, but overall there were no clear fixes. At this point, I don’t expect that to change.
Missouri has allowed at least 250 rushing yards to each and every power five opponent they’ve faced this season. I have no idea what the record is for most consecutive games in which a P5 opponent rushes for at least 250 yards on the ground, but I have to imagine Missouri will get close to breaking said record by the end of the season.
3) Tyler Badie is everything for this team
Tyler Badie finished the game with 31 carries for 254 yards and two touchdowns. He added eight receptions for 40 yards through the air for good measure. He was, once again, the best player on the field and there was no close second (other than maybe Harrison Mevis. Long live, #ThiccerKicker).
The only legitimate question anyone had about Badie coming into this season was whether or not he could carry the load. We can put that to rest. He finished the day against Vanderbilt with 39 total touches. He joins Breece Hall of Iowa State as the only players this season to finish with at least 30 carries and at least five receptions in a single game. The only player to do so last year was Alabama running back Najee Harris.
He joined Larry Rountree III and Ish Witter as the only Missouri running backs in the last 20 years to finish with at least 30 carries in a single game. Rountree never had as many touches in a single game as Badie had on Saturday.
Tyler Badie 294 all-purpose yards 4th most at Mizzou last 50 years (Maclin 2007 Kans St 360, D.West 1998 Kans 333, Wallace 1985 Cal 299)— Tom Orf (@MU4124) October 30, 2021
Any questions we had about Badie have been answered. He’s a star who will hear his name called early in next year’s NFL Draft. It’s been a pleasure to watch him get his turn as the lead back. It’s hard to imagine where this team would be without his contributions.
4) Missouri is a sloppy football team
It’s one thing to play poorly. It’s another thing entirely to play sloppy, and Missouri was the latter once again on Saturday. The Tigers finished the day with nine penalties for 100 yards.
The worst moment of the day came with a minute remaining in the first half when Bazelak slid before the first down marker on third and long setting up a fourth and short. Bazelak hurried up to the line of scrimmage to get a quick sneak to move the chains. One problem - he had a receiver downfield who wasn’t set when the ball was snapped. Penalty. Fourth and six instead of fourth and short and Missouri elected to punt it away.
Eli Drinkwitz said penalties were one of three areas of major emphasis during the bye week. #Mizzou has 6 for 65 yards and just nullified a touchdown.— Power Mizzou (@PowerMizzoucom) October 30, 2021
The Tigers have now averaged 9.5 penalties for 92 yards in their last four games.
It’s those little details that seem to be coming back to bite Missouri right now. This team isn’t good enough to make consistent mental errors.
5) I can’t recommend any of you watch the game next week
Georgia might have the best defense of my lifetime. They scored as many points as they allowed on Saturday against Florida. That’s become a theme on the season. The Bulldogs defense has allowed six touchdowns on the season and they have scored three touchdowns.
It’s going to be ugly. I don’t know what the spread will be in Vegas, but Georgia can basically name their score. They’re great defensively and they also happen to have one of the better rushing offenses in the country.
This is going to be ugly. Take the day to hang out with the family. Don’t put yourself through it. Read about the game before and after right here on Rock M Nation. That should be more than enough.