After a first half of the season that featured the worst run defense in the country, a fired position coach and zero conference wins, Saturday’s game against Texas A&M served as a reminder that things could always get worse for Missouri.
Or, with a more optimistic outlook, stay every bit as bad as they were before.
The Aggies followed the playbook that has become standard for any Missouri opponent in their 35-14 win: Run the ball down the Tigers' collective throat. Devon Achane carried the ball 16 times for 124 yards. Isaiah Spiller racked up 168 yards. As a team, A&M averaged seven yards per carry.
Starting with good field position after a Connor Bazelak interception, it took A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) four plays to score its first touchdown, a two-yard pass from Zach Calzada to Ainias Smith. Four game minutes later, it was 14-0 before Missouri (3-4, 0-3) had a first down.
The chunk plays piled up. Achane had three rushes of at least 19 yards in a five-play stretch late in the first quarter, the final a 20-yard touchdown scamper. The Aggies had 13 runs of at least 10 yards. Missouri had four.
After a disastrous first quarter that included two Bazelak interceptions on his first 10 attempts, Missouri’s offense slowly worked its way back to respectability. Running back Tyler Badie broke off a 32-yard touchdown run to get the Tigers on the board in the second quarter, and an 11-play, 97-yard drive that ended with Dominic Lovett scoring his first career touchdown made the score 28-14 early in the third.
Within two scores, Missouri had a chance to claw back into the game in the third. Martez Manuel forced TAMU into a second and 27 after a sack at the Aggie 35. A holding penalty on Mekhi Wingo moved the ball up 10 yards. Two plays later, Calzada found Smith over the middle for 21 yards and a backbreaking conversion.
Achane capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that effectively sealed the game.
After putting up 279 yards in the first half, the A&M took its foot slightly off the gas in the second and scored only seven points. It didn't matter. Even playing conservative, ball-control offense and soft coverage on defense, the Aggies still almost matched Missouri's output.
The Tiger offense fell mostly quiet after Lovett's touchdown, managing 61 yards and no points in the fourth quarter.
Bazelak finished 29 of 43 for 230 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Badie had 121 total yards.