By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Key play: On the third straight snap under center, a rarity for the Tigers in recent years, Henry Josey barreled into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown, the only touchdown of the quarter for either team.
Key stat: Quarterback James Franklin had an efficient quarter, completing eight of 11 passes for 122 yards, including a 51-yard bomb to Levi Copelin on third and 7 immediately preceding Josey’s touchdown.
Key play: Toledo had closed to 10-9 when the Tigers drove 75 yards in 10 plays, capped by Franklin's 9-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham's back shoulder. Franklin was five for six on the drive, and Green-Beckham had his first touchdown of the season.
Key stat: The Tigers' defense had a bend-but-don’t break quarter. The Rockets started their two drives in the quarter at the 50 and Mizzou 26 but only picked up field goals.
Key play: Officially, it was an interception return, but it could have been ruled a fumble return as well. Either way, defensive end Markus Golden was in the right place when Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens lost control of the ball. Golden snagged it and sprinted 75 yards for the touchdown.
Key stat: The Tigers had two penalties for 30 yards, and both were critical. Linebacker Andrew Wilson was flagged for targeting and was ejected. Golden received an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for celebrating his touchdown.
Key play: Mizzou safety Ian Simon pulled off an athletic interception to preserve the Tigers' 38-23 lead and snuff out Toledo's comeback hopes. It was Missouri's third interception of the game.
Key stat: 5:30: That's how long Missouri, its running game at its best, held the ball to end the game.
Player of the game: Quarterback James Franklin took control when the Tigers needed him to do so. He turned in another solid night statistically, going 16 of 25 for 212 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Of course, it was his contribution in getting the running game going — he had a team-high 77 yards rushing — that provided the spark.
Reason to hope: At the very end, Missouri imposed its will, melting away the final 5:30 with a punishing ground game. It’s something that had been absent through three quarters against a Toledo defense intent on stacking the box and daring Franklin to throw.
Reason to mope: Running back David Fluellen topped 100 yards both rushing and receiving. He had 17 carries for 111 yards and caught 10 passes for 100 yards. Against better offensive lines and stronger, faster backs, how will the Tigers’ defense hold up?
Looking ahead: Missouri had struggles against Toledo’s screen game and got shredded by Fluellen. After a bye week, Missouri travels to Indiana, where an even more potent passing attack awaits and a stiff road test against a Big Ten foe.
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com
|B-||Offense||It took a while for the Tigers to get the running game going, and it’s not going to be a good sign most weeks if quarterback James Franklin is the team’s leading rusher. There was a second-quarter lull that featured three fruitless drives, which netted 1 yard amidst four sacks. Still, the offense put more than 30 points and was balanced in the end.|
|B+||Defense||The raw numbers don’t reflect it, but Missouri bottled up senior quarterback Terrance Owens pretty well, keeping the left-handed passer contained and even rattling him on occasion. The Tigers were aided by a lot of drops, but against a seasoned receiving corps and unusual offense, it was a solid effort.|
|C-||Special teams||Kicker Andrew Baggett didn’t have any trouble, nailing his only field-goal try and consistently putting kickoffs out of the end zone. But punter Christian Binser struggled and return specialist Marcus Murphy made a couple of dicey calls early, nearly muffing a punt and coming out of the end zone on a kickoff.|
|B||Coaching||Missouri’s game plan worked well for the most part. The defense didn’t register many sacks, but Dave Steckel found ways to pressure Owens when needed. Offensively, the pregame decision to put Mauk in to start the second quarter looked odd when the Tigers were leading only 10-6 and were backed up against the goal line.|