By Lucas Owens
A few days ago, the Missouri Tigers were supposed to be playing in Baton Rouge, La. this Saturday as the road team against LSU. Instead, Mizzou ended up at home in Columbia, Mo. due to Hurricane Delta and took advantage of that opportunity to upset the defending champs, 45-41.
The fireworks started early at Faurot Field as Mizzou started off their first drive with a flea flicker that turned into a 58 yard pass from quarterback Connor Bazelak to receiver Tauskie Dove. That pass set the tone for Bazelak’s entire game as his second start behind center, and he went for 406 yards and four touchdowns.
LSU answered back quickly with a long drive, then a series of special teams and offensive turnovers shifted the game heavily to LSU’s favor. Mizzou found themselves down 24-10 after a Cade York field goal and needed something to shift the momentum back to their favor. They found that in their next drive.
Nothing about Mizzou’s second-to-last drive of the half was too flashy, but after a series of missteps, it was badly needed. They followed up a touchdown from Jalen Knox with a three and out by the defense, and then another long drive to set up a Harrison Mevis field goal. In just two drives, Mizzou went from down ten to even with the defending champs entering the half.
After a brief reprieve, the turnovers returned in the second half, and in the worst possible spot. After the Mizzou defense forced LSU’s offense off the field in three plays, Larry Rountree III ran the ball up the middle to start Mizzou’s drive. He then proceeded to fumble the ball at the five yard line, giving LSU a fantastic chance to score. When LSU took the lead there, Mizzou bounced back immediately, and answered with a huge touchdown to converted receiver Micah Wilson. Wilson found himself wide open towards the goal line when he made that touchdown reception, as both LSU defenders had split off.
“The corner was soft, and then the safety, I don’t know if there was a miscommunication, he was low, so when I saw him go low, that was all” Wilson said.
Through the rest of the game, both teams continued to answer back and forth, until LSU held the ball on fourth down with 7:04 to go in the fourth. York lined up for a 45 yard field goal, easily within his range, but it ended up blocked by Mizzou’s Tre Williams.
“I got a big head,” said Williams. “Earlier in the game, when I tried to jump up, one of the tackles tried to lift me up in the air, so I did the same thing, and he did the same thing. So, I just made sure that I jumped a little bit and it bounced off my helmet.”
That was all the momentum Mizzou needed, and the Tigers proceeded to march down the field in just four plays, the biggest of which was Bazelak’s pass to receiver Chance Luper for 69 yards that got Mizzou to LSU’s 10 yard line. Two plays later, Bazelak fired a pass to Nico Hea, and Mizzou finally retook the lead.
With five minutes left, however, LSU opted not to run a hurry up offense with their next drive. They chose, instead, to trust quarterback Myles Brennan with the ball. That decision could have worked in their favor, as through their long, drawn-out drive, they found themselves at Mizzou’s one yard line with 40 seconds, four downs, and one timeout left, but Mizzou’s goal line defense thought otherwise.
First down: Tyrion Davis-Price runs the ball straight up the middle but is stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Second down: history repeats itself, and Davis-Price can still not find the endzone. LSU Coach Ed Orgeron is forced to call a timeout with 22 seconds on the clock. Third down: Brennan rolls to the left, and targets Terrace Marshall Jr., who had 235 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Nick Bolton breaks it up quickly by getting a hand on it. Bolton played Saturday injured, although he would not disclose what was bothering him. He had a lot to say about persevering through pain, but this stuck the most:
“Pain is temporary. Winning is forever.”
It all came down to this: the fourth down for LSU from Mizzou’s one-yard line. 16 seconds left on the clock, which did not matter to LSU any more as the clock had stopped prior to the play, but to Mizzou, it meant either stopping LSU here or trying to march down the field in about 10 seconds. They chose the former.
Myles Brennan snapped the ball, and instead of rolling left, he moved right, looking for Marshall Jr. again. Marshall Jr. tried to make separation with Mizzou’s Joshuah Bledsoe. He succeeded, but just for a moment, as Bledsoe fought through and broke up the pass. Marshall Jr. would not get his fourth reception of the day. One QB sneak to run out the clock later, Mizzou had found themselves victorious, with their first win of the season and of coach Eliah Drinkwitz’ Mizzou career.
To say Mizzou’s efforts were led by Bazelak would be an understatement. As stated before, he ended up with 406 yards passing and four touchdowns, but more than anything, he led Mizzou’s offense with energy. In past weeks, Mizzou’s offense was struggling in the new scheme and could never get much going. This week, every drive felt like it could go the distance.
LSU’s Brennan did not have a bad game himself either, as he had 430 yards and four touchdowns too. Brennan’s play should have netted LSU the win, but their defense could not be found anywhere except in forcing some key turnovers. LSU allowed 586 offensive yards, which when including that Mizzou lost the opportunity to advance three times due to turning the ball over, is shocking. All things said, LSU had an 87.1% chance to win today, and were favored by 14 points, and they lost by four.
Coach Eliah Drinkwitz gets his first win as head coach of the Mizzou Tigers as they move to 1-2 on the season and in conference play. Next week, they return to Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium for Homecoming to face the Vanderbilt Commodores, who find themselves 0-3 after a 41-7 loss to South Carolina. LSU beat the Commodores 41-7 just a week ago. LSU drops to 1-2, and will very likely find themselves out of the top 25 in just a few days.
Edited by Emma Moloney