Missouri raced to a 19-0 first-half lead, gave most of it away, then eased back ahead in a 26-17 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday at Faurot Field.
Drew Lock completed 22 of 37 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yard bomb to J’Mon Moore, and Damarea Crockett rushed 20 times for 154 yards to pace Missouri’s best, most consistent offensive effort since September. The Tigers would have scored a lot more than 26 points, however, had their drive-finishing issues from last week not continued.
Against South Carolina, Missouri threw two interceptions in or near the end zone and missed two field goals, easily accounting for the 10-point losing margin. On Saturday, the Tigers missed two more field goals and two PATs and lost a fumble at the Vanderbilt 1 in the third quarter.
Aarion Penton and an active defense, however, allowed the Tigers to survive. Penton picked off a pass and took it 19 yards for a score early in the second quarter, and the Mizzou pass rush made its most sustained appearance of the season. The Tigers sacked Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur six times in 35 pass attempts — 2.5 each from Charles Harris and Marcell Frazier and a half sack each from Nate Howard and Jordan Harold; they defensed six passes as well. This level of successful aggression provided flashbacks to 2015.
Tramel on the Tigers’ win
There were still obvious issues. Poor Tucker McCann has completely lost the plot in the place-kicking department. His two missed PATs and a 21-yard biff meant that Missouri lead only 19-17 heading into the fourth quarter instead of 24-17. Plus, when Shurmur had time to throw, he usually found somebody open; he completed 17 of 29 passes for 252 yards.
Still, Vandy’s Ralph Webb and Khari Blasingame managed only 98 yards in 25 carries, far inferior to what Crockett produced, and the Commodores faced far more third-and-long situations. The result: Mizzou was 10-for-19 on third downs, and VU was 3-for-14. That was enough.
The win makes Missouri 3-7 for the season, but ... the record isn’t really all that important. This was Missouri’s best combined offensive and defensive effort in a while. Now we’ll see if the Tigers can produce something similar over the next couple of weeks.
Writing about wins feels so much better than writing about losses. We’ll do some more of that tomorrow.