Key play: Facing fourth-and-3 at the Indiana 18, Missouri faked a field goal. Safety Braylon Webb picked up three yards and Jake Reed was penalized for a horse-collar tackle to boot. The Tigers’ first touchdown came one play later.
Key stat: Indiana’s “fastball offense,” as Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was fond of calling it, managed only 74 yards and a meager 3.7 yards per play in the first quarter against a surprisingly stout Tigers defense, which had early struggles against Murray State and Toledo.
Key play: Early in the second quarter, Missouri was leading 14-0 and on the march when wide receiver Marcus Lucas fumbled at the Indiana 37. It was a great strip by Hoosiers freshman linebacker Marcus Oliver, but it was also the Tigers’ third turnover and led to Indiana’s first scoring drive.
Key stat: Missouri intercepted Nate Sudfeld twice in the second quarter, helping even up the turnover battle. Defensive end Kony Ealy’s athletic interception and 49-yard touchdown return late in the period restored a 14-point lead.
Key play: On Indiana’s second drive with co-starting quarterback Tre Roberson on for the first time, the Hoosiers faced third-and-3 when Roberson kept the ball on a misdirection play around the right end, but senior Andrew Wilson, who returned from suspension at halftime, wasn’t fooled and forced a punt with 1-yard tackle for a loss.
Key stat: The most important number was 30, as in the “30” defense. With Wilson’s return, Missouri switched from a 4-2-5 look to the new formation, a planned change but one that nonetheless baffled Indiana. The Hoosiers only managed 23 yards on 15 third-quarter plays as the Tigers pulled away.
Key play: It was only the second play of the quarter, but L’Damian Washington’s 14-yard touchdown reception from James Franklin officially made the game a laugher. Indiana never drew closer than a three-score margin the rest of the way.
Key stat: In the fourth quarter, Missouri racked up 16 carries for 120 yards on the ground, melting the clock and preventing Indiana mounting any serious threat at a comeback.
Player of the game: How about Dorial Green-Beckham, who caught eight passes for a team-high 105 yards with a 7-yard touchdown reception. It was Green-Beckham’s first career 100-yard game and he was a matchup nightmare for Indiana, forcing soft coverage and consistently moving the chains.
Reason to hope: Missouri is going to score points. That much is clear. As long as Franklin, who completed 32 of 47 passes for 343 yards, stays healthy, the offense isn’t likely to get completely skunked. And if the defense can play like this consistently, the Tigers have a chance to put together a special season.
Reason to mope: It’s hard to find a dark cloud in this one, but three turnovers in the first 20 minutes was unacceptable. Against a better team than Indiana, Missouri won’t be able to weather such a storm.
Looking ahead: Missouri wraps up its non-conference schedule next Saturday against Arkansas State, a Sun Belt program that got trounced Sept. 7 by Auburn 38-9 and got whipped Saturday 31-7 by Memphis. No game is a gimme, but the Tigers ought to have little trouble getting to 4-0.
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
|B-||Offense||There were too many turnovers early and that kept Missouri from burying Indiana in the first quarter, but the Tigers were unstoppable through the air against Indiana’s soft coverage. The running game was effective when it needed to be. All in all, another steady performance aside from the early giveaways.|
|A-||Defense||The Tigers’ defense set a terrific tone by limiting the Hoosiers’ explosive offense to 74 first-quarter yards. Defensive end Kony Ealy returned an interception for a touchdown, the second straight game a defensive lineman scored on a pick. Poor tackling on a few occasions and two long passing plays kept the grade from being higher.|
|B||Special teams||Things were going well until Andrew Baggett pushed a 39-yard field goal try wide right in the fourth quarter. Baggett recorded seven touchbacks on eight kickoffs. Punter Christian Brinser also posted a net average of 38.5 yards on four punts.|
|A||Coaching||Coach Gary Pinkel’s early fourth-down, fake-field goal gamble not only paid off handsomely, but it showed confidence in the Tigers’ offense as well as the defense. The decision to switch to a “30” defense at halftime when Andrew Wilson returned from his targeting suspension baffled Indiana and paved the way to 3-0.|