Columbia — Maybe you turned the game off by then, maybe you didn’t.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
But those who watched Alabama’s 42-10 win over Missouri in its entirety saw Alabama defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning add insult to injury with this very dangerous “tackle” of Russell Hansbrough - which was more like a WWE-style suplex - in the waning minutes of the game.
It was the kind of play that gets players seriously hurt, which is why Fanning was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. However, I was also surprised to see no Missouri player shove or punch or at least get in Fanning’s face immediately after the play.
Had Missouri’s players left it there, it would have set a terrible precedent on film. Other teams would have watched the tape and decided that the Tigers don’t defend their own, and would try to bully them the rest of the way, especially given the Tigers' 0-4 SEC record. It would have been ugly, I promise you.
Fortunately for MU, its interior line stepped up to dish out what I call “street justice” on the Tigers' next two plays. On the next play, center Brad McNulty and left guard Evan Boehm double team and drive Fanning back seven yards off the ball before eventually throwing him down after the whistle.
Fanning dusted himself off and appeared to say something to the referee, who smiled and mouthed something back to him. The very next play went even worse for Fanning, as he got bulldozed off the line of scrimmage by junior guard Max Copeland (knowing Max, no one was more ticked off at Fanning’s suplex of Hansbrough than he).
Copeland quickly pancaked Fanning and proceeded to "engage" him on the ground, and right tackle Justin Britt came over to do something to Fanning as well. It’s hard to see if there were any extracurriculars because their backs are to the camera, but if there were - we did see Fanning's helmet come off - and the refs swallowed their whistles, that just confirms something I think Missouri and its fans have already learned: The SEC is a man’s league. Fanning brought that on himself, and the refs weren’t going to bail him out.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday that Fanning had written letters of apology to Hansbrough and MU coach Gary Pinkel for the hit.
Murphy shines again
With his 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, sophomore running back Marcus Murphy broke a school record for return touchdowns in a single season with four.
Murphy, who also has three punt returns touchdowns, broke John Mosley’s mark of three, set in 1973.
The return came in the second quarter, with MU trailing 28-0.
“I knew that it could possibly be a spark," Murphy said. "The first kickoff return I had, I saw that it was kind of open. So I just tried to go ahead and take the next one back to the house."
The return happened almost immediately after the conclusion of a 38-minute weather delay.
“We came in, we tried to use the timeout out as an opportunity to adjust and refocus," Murphy said. "I just think coming out, they kind of took us lightly and allowed me to take the kick return back.”
Murphy missed much of MU's 19-15 loss to Vanderbilt a week ago due to a dislocated finger. He said he didn't get the stitches out until the day of the Alabama game,
“I guess it was affecting me,” Murphy said. “I didn’t play as much at running back and I didn’t get a lot of punt returns.”
But like retired C.I.A operative Bryan Mills, it didn't keep him from doing what he does best.
‘Bama gashes Mizzou
There are a number of factors that contributed to Alabama racking up a ridiculous 362 rushing yards on Saturday, like elite offensive line and running back talent, for instance.
But big defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson hinted that there was more to it.
“We knew coming into the game they’d get a couple plays off,” Richardson said. “We did good for the most part, a couple holding calls didn’t get called…I got high-lowed a lot in this game, they (the refs) didn’t see.”
Richardson, however, was complementary of Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, saying both backs are pretty similar to South Carolina’s, which includes star Marcus Lattimore.
“They looked the same to me,” Richardson said. “Eddie Lacy ran pretty hard, Yeldon, he’s a pretty good back, he ran just as hard as Lacy did. (They) had a big offensive line in front of them.”
Richardson said that after watching Lacy and Yeldon run through arm tackles as Alabama built a 42-10 lead, the Tigers finally started to put shoulder pads on them the rest of the way. Both backs still finished with over 100 yards.
“That’s a hard group to tackle,” said receiver T.J. Moe.
Tigers secure another commitment
Pensacola, Fla., defensive end Nate Crawford committed to Missouri over the weekend, according to PowerMizzou.com.
Crawford, a three-star prospect who is listed at 6-feet-4, 260 pounds, is Missouri’s first commitment from the state of Florida in the Class of 2013. He had offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State and South Florida, among others.
He is the 17th player from the current class to commit to Missouri, and the third defensive lineman, along with defensive tackle prospects Antar Thompson (6-3, 295) and A.J. Logan (6-2, 310), both of whom are from the state of Missouri.
Freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham made national headlines when he and teammates Torey Boozer and Levi Copelin were busted a few weeks ago for suspicion of marijuana possession.
After a one-game suspension, Green-Beckham returned to the field Saturday, though he didn’t make much of an impact.
“He’s a good kid,” Moe said. “Guys don’t worry too much about him. He’s a tough guy, I talked to him a little bit right after it happened and we don’t worry about him. He’s got a great head on his shoulders.”
*Defensive end Michael Sam forced two fumbles, marking the 25th consecutive game Missouri has forced at least one turnover.
*Don’t look now, but redshirt freshman kicker Andrew Baggett has been very good of late. Baggett made his fifth consecutive field goal on Saturday, a 41-yarder that made him 8-for-12 on the season. It was the first field goal Alabama has allowed all season.
*Sophomore receiver Bud Sasser made his first career start, but did not catch a pass.
*Saturday’s game marked the fifth time the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll has visited Memorial Stadium, and the first time since a 45-38 loss to Nebraska in 1997. The Tigers are now 0-5 at home against the AP poll No. 1.
*For the first time all season, Missouri’s defense allowed an opponent to score on its opening drive. Lacy scored on a 73-yard touchdown run.