I will go on the record and say this: Missouri’s 36-7 victory over Tennessee is by far the most impressive in the Eli Drinkwitz era, better than LSU (2020) and Kansas State and Kentucky this year. Outside of one Tennessee scoring drive, it was complete domination from start to finish in every phase of the game. The offense ground-and-pound approach couldn’t be stopped. The defense resembled the Purple People Eaters or Steel Curtain, while our kicker nailed a 46-yard field goal and missed putting the icing on the cake. Saturday was a divine butt-kicking in Mizzou football history, so with that being said, here are six numbers to help contextualize it:
4 Explosive Plays
Last week, I said that I thought Blake Baker’s defense gave up way too many big plays in a 30-21 loss to Georgia, at least for my own personal liking. I also pointed out how the Vols came into Columbia after putting up eight big plays against UConn and a combined 26 in their past two meetings against Mizzou. One of my keys to victory was limiting those big plays. As a reminder, that’s a pass play of 20-plus yards and a run play of 15-plus yards.
This past Saturday, Missouri did that, limiting Tennessee to just four big plays: Joe Milton with two long completions to Ramel Keyton and a 15-yard rush. Also, a Milton to Squirrel White completion for 23 yards. That was it.
Outside of the season opener against South Dakota, it’s the fewest big plays allowed by Missouri’s defense all season. For Tennessee, it’s their fewest since losing to Florida 29-16 this season.
Yes, his offense was flat, but let’s not get it twisted: Josh Heupel is an offensive mastermind at the collegiate level. He stepped in during the 2021 season and turned Tennessee into a top-10 scoring offense in back-to-back seasons.
Let’s give Blake Baker’s group a round of applause. Even with facing Alabama and Georgia every year, no team has ever held a Heupel-led Tennessee team to a single-digit scoring total. In fact, the last time a football team associated with Heupel was held to fewer than 10 points came on Sep. 18, 2018 when Mizzou lost to Purdue 35-3.
29-Point Margin of Victory
The AP Poll began during the 1936 season. Since the creation of the system, Mizzou has beaten fifteen AP Top 15 teams. Saturday’s 36-7 victory over then No. 14 Tennessee took the top spot as the Tigers largest margin of victory over an AP Top 15 team, overtaking a 27-point victory over No. 14 Oklahoma State in 1975.
Mizzou football’s largest margin of victory over an AP Top 15 Team
- 29 Points: Vs. No. 14 Tennessee (2023)
- 27 Points: Vs. No. 14 Oklahoma State (1975)
- 25 Points: Vs. No. 12 Alabama (1968)
- 23 Points: Vs. No. 13 Michigan (1969)
- 21 Points: Vs. No. 13 Florida (2018)
- 21 Points: Vs. No. 13 Duke (1947)
- 21 Points: Vs. No. 14 North Carolina (1976)
- 17 Points: Vs. No. 10 Nebraska (2003)
- 15 Points: Vs. No. 7 Georgia (2013)
- 14 Points: Vs. No. 10 Nebraska (1939)
Cody Schrader was, and still is, a workhorse on the ground. He shredded Tennessee’s defense for rushing 205 yards. Adding on the 116 yards he tallied through the air, that’s 321 total yards against the Vols. He is now the only running back in the history of the Southeastern Conference to collect 200-plus rushing yards and 100-plus receiving yards in the same game.
Surprisingly, there have only been three other instances where a Mizzou running back posted a 100-yard receiving performance. Tyler Badie did against Vanderbilt with 102 yards, but in order to find out the last time a running back for the Tigers had more than Schrader’s 116 yards, you have to go back 33 years to when Michael Jones — yes, the Mike Jones that made the greatest play in Super Bowl history — collected 118 receiving yards against Nebraska in 1990.
83 Rushing Yards
Darius Robinson was named the SEC Defensive Lineman player of the week, and it’s easy to see why. Robinson finished with a tackle for loss and a sack, helping lead a charge that limited Tennessee to just 83 yards rushing on Saturday afternoon. This is a buck-thirty under there SEC’s second best, they were knocked off the throne after LSU killed Florida, 213 yards per game average. I mentioned it during the game, the three-headed monster was nowhere to be found between Jaylin Wright, Jabari Small, and Dylan Sample, and like Drinkwitz said postgame, the defense kicked their a**.
Contextualizing how this stacks up makes it more impressive. Since their entry to the SEC, the Tigers defense has held a team that ranks in the top four in rushing yards to under 100 just once: Against Kentucky in 2020. The last time they held a top four conference rushing team under the 83 yards was all the way back in 2011, when Texas was just held to 76 yards in a 17-5 win.
406 rushing yards
If we’re giving out credit, a big slice of ot goes towards Schrader and the offensive line, as well as a small slice to Brady Cook and his ability to create positive plays with his feet. Over the past two weeks, Missouri’s zone running game has opened up with the Tigers running for 406 yards in two weeks. This has been no easy task by any means: Georgia ranks second in rush defense in the conference, and Missouri went into Sanford Stadium and knocked them around on the ground.
Tennessee came into Faurot Field with the conference’s best rush defense, but tumbled all the way down to fourth place following Missouri’s 255 yard performance.