James Franklin started for the first time in five games and didn’t miss a beat, as the Tigers (10-1, 6-1 SEC) got the ball first, marched down the field and scored in less than three minutes and led the rest of the way in a 24-10 win over Ole Miss (7-4, 3-4), who had just entered the polls to cap off the two-win day. Earlier in the day, Mizzou shook off a halftime deficit to Gardner-Webb, using one of its trademark Mizzou Arena runs – 16-0 – to open up a 20-point lead in the 72-63 win to move to 4-0.
To the most important win, first.
The Gary Pinkel f-you Redemption Tour continues to roll on and now the Tigers – now up to No. 5 in the BCS – come home to play its biggest home game since 1960 and the biggest game in the Pinkel era since back-to-back big ‘uns in 2007 (KU @ Arrowhead, which just so happens to be six years ago, today and the ensuing Big 12 title game with a trip to the BCS title game on the line). Blackout. Senior Day. Johnny Football comes to town. The atmosphere will be electric and with a win, as Mizzou is one of five teams that realistically still have a shot at the national title, they will head to Atlanta to as SEC East champs just on year after a 5-7 finish and a yearning by the fan base to run both Pinkel and James Franklin out of town.
Boy, how they have answered their critics.
Franklin completed his first 11 passes – his first incompletion being a interception, his first such in 107 attempts. Following the pick, he completed just one of his next seven, finishing 12 of 19 for 142 yards.
“I thought he did an outstanding job,” Pinkel said. “The guy hadn’t played in six weeks and there was a lot of pressure on him to play well.”
“I definitely wasn’t the happiest with how I played,” Franklin said. “I think I was thinking more of not doing bad and trying to do good rather than just going out there and playing. It definitely feels good to be back and I’ll try to learn from this game and apply it to next week’s game.”
Franklin’s three biggest drives of the game came at the most important times. The opening series gave Missouri a quick lead – something they have done in every game he has started this year, except Georgia: get the ball first and score. It is so important and puts pressure on the other team. The two answered Ole Miss scores. At the end of the first half, up 10-3 after Andrew Ritter’s 30-yard FG cut the deficit to a TD, Franklin guided the offense down the field for a quick 2 and a half minute dive, a speed option at the goalline resulting in a Marcus Murphy 3-yard run, and it was 17-3 at halftime. Ole Miss scored on the opening possession of the second half – a I’Tavius Mathers 45-yard run to make it 17-10, but again Franklin and Missouri answered, going on a long 6 and a half minute, 86-yard drive that ended in a Henry Josey, who ran for 95 yards on 15 carries, 10-yard score – his second of the game. It was 24-10, and Ole Miss never scored again.
“Henry Josey is playing as good or better as he’s ever been,” Pinkel said. “He’s an inspiration to the team and is an untouchable guy among fans. It really is amazing that he doesn’t wear a brace on the injured knee.”
And to boot, the Missouri offense had the ball for the final eight minutes of the game, running it 13 straight times and kneeling twice. They certainly could have scored, but that is not Pinkel’s M-O. Instead, they simply ran the clock out.
Another complete-team type of win. The special teams blocked a FG and a fake punt worked easily. The defense held Ole Miss to just three points in three redzone trips and blanketed the Ole Miss offense for most of the second half.
It put a quality opponent to sleep. For much of the game Mississippi couldn’t really win it. Missouri had to lose it.
Now one win away from a very special year – 11 regular season wins, a school record.
“You think that one was huge?” Pinkel asked. “It’s gonna get a lot bigger than that. It’s a huge game. We’re gonna play against the best player in college football.”
Win, and you are in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta Dec. 7. Lose, and it’s a good year at 10-2, but South Carolina wins the division.
“I wish we would have got the help we needed from ourselves four weeks ago and this thing would be over,” Pinkel said. “But, this is fun. This is what you do this for. This is what you work very hard for. I still don’t sleep well during the season.”
Two more for the greatest season in school history? That makes me winder about this team, when comparing them to the 2007 team. Which is better? The 2007 team would have never won a game 24-10. That team had superstars and NFL players on both sides of the ball, but this team is such a complete team. Dominant lines on both sides of the ball. A very good receiving core. Three good RB’s. TWO good QB’s and a defense that forces turnovers. They can beat you by scoring 50. They can beat you by holding you to ten. They can beat you by throwing 50 passes and running it 50 times. They can beat you just about any damn way they want to. It’s a tough call.
BEAT JOHNNY FOOTBALL!
How will the Tigers contain him, “I’m not sure you can,” Pinkel added. “Everybody will say do what LSU did. Easier said than done.”
There, you have it.
Is it Saturday, yet?
For the rest of the year, it is going to be about Mauk couldn’t do that, Franklin couldn’t make that throw, Mauk couldn’t have made that run etc. Who cares. It is a good problem to have. Both played their part in this one. Mauk played one drive and led Missouri to a FG – a drive that had two potential TD’s wasted (L’Damain Washington dropped a pass in the endzone after he was hit and Josey had a TD called back because of holding) and instead of 14-0, it was 10-0. He completed just 3 of 7 passes but for 83 yards, but a 60-yarder on a post to Bud Sasser, while at the time Franklin was 7-7, 89 yards. That embodies the difference between the two QB’s. Franklin moves the chains, but doesn’t take a whole lot of risk – he has a nice deep ball and completed two such passes Saturday, while Mauk is a gun-slinger with a much greater chance of a big play, but, a much lower completion percentage. But, two of them as a whole are wonderful. Each guy understands their role and that is what is most important to the team. Franklin was mostly James Franklin and Mauk was Mauk.
“We are fortunate to have guys like Franklin and Mauk,” Pinkel said. “Some teams struggle at the QB position, and we have two good ones.”
Pinkel said the staff had planned to play Mauk another drive in the second half, but decided against it.
“Not that he couldn’t have gone out there, but we just kind of stuck with James in that situation,” Pinkel said. Mauk “played really well when he went in. He did an excellent job and drove us right down the field.”
We know Mauk wanted to play more; we know he wanted to start, but he has played the Chase Daniel role to Franklin’s Brad Smith, and we know that if Franklin goes down again, Missouri’s level of play won’t change much. It’s a great feeling to have.
Josey scored two more TD’s to get to 12 for the year, but Murphy and Russell Hansbrough give the Tigers a deeper than most rotation at RB. Murphy and Hansbrough added an additional 99 yards and the trio combined for 194 yards and three TD on 39 carries (4.97 YPC). Not bad.
L’Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham struggled, catching just four passes for 61 yards with three drops, but Sasser and Marcus Lucas came up with some big plays, catching five passes for 131 yards. Tight end Eric Waters tied a season-high with three catches, although it was just for six yards.
Missouri ran for 260 yards, maintaining their No. 2 in the SEC rushing attack. The big ugly white boys up front were simply suffocating in the second half, where they ran for 200 yards and opened up huge holes, wearing down Ole Miss. Missouri ran it 35 times and passed it just 12 after halftime.
The Confederates scored just three points in three redzone trips as two false start penalties and a goalline and short yardage stands from the defense made it tough going for Ole Miss. Up 7-0, Ole Miss had a first and goal at the 1, and ended up with no yards the next three plays, followed by a Brantley/Josh Augusta blocked FG. Missouri continued its already NCAA-record consecutive games with a forced turnover streak to 41 on corner Randy Ponder’s second INT of the season on Ole Miss’s second drive. This time, Missouri did not turn the TO into points, a rarity for 2013. Also, the defense caught a break in the fourth quarter. Donte Moncrief dropped a TD-pass that would have cut Missouri’s lead to 24-17 with eight minutes remaining, but instead turned the ball over on downs one play later, and the Rebels never got the ball back. First and goal at the 1, no points and first and goal at the 7 and no points. Huge.
Safety Duron Singleton left the game with a hip flexor and will with miss Saturday’s game against A&M. Matt White played most of the downs in his absence and had a very good game. His TD-saving pass breakup on the goal line might have been the most important defensive play of the night, except it was so quickly followed up by Kony Ealy’s in-your-face pressure on Wallace’s 4th and goal attempt. The rest of Ealy’s DL mates played fantastic, but it was the tackles this time, not the ends like normal. Lucas Vincent ate up a screen and a reverse, and Matt Hoch joined in on a sack.
The Rebels, outside of their one third quarter scoring drive, ran for just 50 yards.
No problems from the kicking game and nothing special from the return game, but special teams played a MAMMOTH role in this one and both involved SEC Special Teams Player of the Week Harold Brantley. It is quite a rarity to see a defensive lineman win such an award, but it was deserved as he helped block a kick with Missouri up 7-0 in the first quarter after a defensive stand and then rambled 26 yards with surprising speed on a fourth down fake punt.
Brantley’s honor, was the 11th individual award this year for the Tigers, believed to be a program record.
Oh, and hey, the Andrew Baggett made a FG, which put the Tigers up 10-0 in the second quarter.
For the fourth time in seven years, Missouri has won 10 games. Amazing. Not bad for a guy that people wanted fired.
“I never did this to break records,” he said after his 100th Mizzou win. “It is more important that people nationally respect Mizzou football.”
Pinkel (100-62) became the second coach in Missouri history to reach 100 victories. He has done it in just three seasons and is one win away from reaching legendary coach Don Faurot, who went 101-79-10 in 19 seasons during two stints at MU (1935-42, 1946-56).
Pinkel and staff made all the right decisions this week, going for it (and getting it) at the right time on fourth down, calling a beautiful fake punt (man, Harold Brantley could run!)
- Pinkel says he has “never” heard the cannon go off after a Mizzou score because he is too focused on the game.
- Pinkel said he’ll be an “emotional wreck” until eight minutes into the game Saturday because of Senior Day. He added, “we’ll honor them before the game” and a former player warned him to get the group’s mind right after the ceremony. “I want the players to have fun and not be tight. They prepare very well and they get it.”
- Missouri has led every game by at least 14 points and has not led in the fourth quarter, once.
- On Murphy’s touchdown run, Waters blocked an Ole Miss defender all the way through the end zone and into the padded wall at the front of the stands. The defender took exception and shoved Waters, drawing a 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. “It was time for him to go home.” (Blind Side reference).
Earlier in the day, the Missouri basketball team, whose game got moved up because of the Missouri football game, earned a win over the Runnin’ Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb in front of a half-empty Mizzou Arena (again), which was missing the Antlers following a group ejection.
The Tigers struggled for the first 25 minutes of the game and continued to prove that they are going to be as good as the Big Three of Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross and Jordan Clarkson. Once they got going in the second half, so did the team. No coincidence there. The trio is responsible for 60% of the team’s scoring this season and met that again Saturday, scoring 44 (61%) in the 72-63 win – their 76th straight non-conference home win and 21st straight overall home win.
Missouri, in their first of four games in six days, led 6-0, then following a 10-0 run, trailed 18-14. They answered that with an 8-3 run and led 22-17 and led just 31-29 at halftime.
Fouls hurt Missouri at the beginning of the second half, registering 10 in the first 7 minutes, 47 seconds, including two technicals – one on Brown and the other on the bench, but still led 48-45.
Missouri scored 14 straight, ignited (an old-fashioned 3-point play) and capped (a MAMMOTH and-1 follow dunk) by two Johnathan Williams III 3-point plays to open up a 62-45 lead with 7:24 remaining and extended the run to 22-5 to grab its biggest lead of 20 points, 70-50 with 3:33 remaining in the game, but the back of the end bench played brutally poorly down the stretch.
“It was a great game for us tonight,” interim head coach Tim Fuller said. “Obviously, Coach Craft had his team prepared and they continued to throw different defenses at us. This is only this group’s fourth game together. So, I told media earlier before we went out to play that Gardner-Webb has won eight of their last 10 games last year in the Big South, and that is a very respectable conference. They know how to play well together. They know how to win together. That is something that we are still learning. I was pleased with our effort and we have been intentional in our work on the free throw line and we showed we had to make free throws in the second half in order to be successful and get the win and that is what we did. Obviously, Johnathan Williams, III tonight was a career rebounding night for him and was certainly something that I have told people a long time ago that I felt like he could be one of the best rebounders in the country. He has the potential to be one of the best rebounders in the country. He showed that tonight.”
Ross led all scorers with 17 and Williams III, the first freshman to start a season-opener at Missouri since 2004, had 17 rebounds to pace the Tigers. Brown (14) and Clarkson (13) were also in double-figures as all three of the Big Three have been in double-figures in all four games.
Now, Missouri will face IUPUI (1-4) tomorrow before heading off to Las Vegas to complete the Las Vegas Invitational against Northwestern on Thanksgiving and Nevada on Friday.
- Earnest Ross: 32 Min, 17 Pts (5-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 6-6 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO
- Johnathan Williams III: 33 Min, 7 Pts (3-10 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-4 FT), 17 Reb (8 Off), 3 Blk, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 PF
- Jordan Clarkson: 33 Min, 14 Pts (5-13 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-4 FT), 5 Ast, 4 Reb, 2 Stl, 4 TO
- Ryan Rosburg: 21 Min, 8 Pts (3-4 FG, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 4 PF
- Jabari Brown: 37 Min, 13 Pts (4-11 FG, 1-4 3PT, 4-4 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 4 TO
- Tony Criswell: 9 Min, 8 Pts (3-4 FG, 2-3 FT), 3 Reb (3 Off), 5 PF
- Keanau Post: 8 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG), 2 Reb
- Torren Jones: 5 Min, 1 Pt (0-1 FG, 1-2 FT)
- Danny Feldmann: 2 Min
- Wes Clark: 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG, 0-1 3PT), 2 Reb
- Corey Haith: 1 Min, 2 TO
- Shane Rector: 8 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 3PT), 2 TO
- Missouri scored its first 26 points in the paint before Ross hit one of two free throws. In all, Missouri hit 13 FG’s in the paint and five FT’s in the first half, going 0-8 from 3.
- Missouri dominated the glass (46-29) and the paint (46-18).
- 1,100 more people showed up to watch the Mizzou volleyball team win the school’s first-ever SEC championship, moving to 34-0.
- Outside of three Gardner-Webb runs, Mizzou outscored them 64-30.
- Mizzou struggled against the zone defense, and fell right into the Bulldogs hands, hitting just 2 of 14 3’s. The Tigers came in shooting 45% from 3. Now, they’re at 37.3%.
- I really like how Fuller has handled the rotation. He plays all the scholarship players in the first half to make them feel like they are part of the game and then goes with the hot hands in the second half.
- Speaking of the bench, 6-10 wing Stefan Jankovic has left the program, seeking a transfer. I saw this coming after he came into the game against Hawaii in KC a week ago, fouled within the first minute, and left the game, never to return. But, I didn’t think it would be THIS soon.
- Supposedly the Antlers were kicked out for a “SCUM, SCUM, SCUM, go back where you came from” chant – something they have been doing for the LAST 36 YEARS. Seems a bit silly. A friend of mine that is a former Antler said to me, “that’s the nicest thing I ever said at a game.”