Campus Corner

Third-down success helps Missouri’s scores biggest SEC blowout

Updated: 2013-11-11T00:22:46Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

Missouri’s 48-17 victory Saturday against Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium was the program’s biggest blowout in Southeastern Conference history.

It’s the second week in a row the Tigers have earned that distinction.

Missouri walloped Kentucky by 23 points last season and matched that margin of victory Oct. 5 at Vanderbilt.

The Tigers eclipsed that record by pummeling Tennessee 31-3 last Saturday then turned around and hung a 31-point win on the Wildcats.

Overall, it represents Missouri’s largest margin of victory in conference play since brutalizing Iowa State 52-17 on Oct. 15, 2011.

It also was the Tigers’ largest margin of victory in a conference road game since thrashing the Cyclones 52-20 on Nov. 15, 2008.

“I told them in the locker room, ‘This is fun, but it can get a lot funner,’” coach Gary Pinkel said.

Obviously, the biggest factors in the blowout victory were sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham’s record-setting day and eight sacks from the defense — one of junior defensive end Kony Ealy’s tackles for a loss was changed to a sack Sunday, giving him three in the game and 6 1/2 for the season.

Among the other keys to Missouri’s remarkable success was an ability to convert ridiculous third downs.

During the first half, the Tigers found themselves in third-and-long consistently, but managed to make cook up a little chicken salad.

The average first-half third-down conversion was 8 yards and redshirt freshman Maty Mauk completed six of seven passes for 90 yards on third down before halftime.

On the game’s opening drive, redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk scrambled to keep a third-and-9 alive before hitting running back Henry Josey downfield for a 16-yard pickup and a first down.

Missouri was particularly incredible in the second quarter:

— Mauk hit Dorial Green-Beckham for a 12-yard completion on third-and-10;

— Later that same drive, which put the Tigers in front 21-3, Mauk moved the chains on third-and-8 with a 29-yard pass to Bud Sasser;

— On Missouri’s next drive, Mauk’s 13-yard pass to Darius White converted a third-and-11;

— That same possession, Mauk hit Jimmie Hunt with a 16-yard completion for a first down and capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown toss to Josey on third-and-goal.

Now sitting at 9-1 overall, the Tigers hit the break in control of their own fate with respect to the SEC East championship.

Missouri is 5-1 in conference play with games at Mississippi (Nov. 23) and at home against Texas A&M (Nov. 30) remaining.

Starting quarterback James Franklin, a senior and captain, is expected to return after the Tigers’ one-week hiatus, a chance for rest and recovery before the season’s finishing kick.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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