Key play: Texas A&M sophomore Tra Carson carved up the Missouri defense on a 29-yard touchdown run, scoring the quarter’s only points at the 6:34 mark. Carson broke tackles by seniors Michael Sam and Matt White on his way to the end zone.
Key stat: Missouri totaled only 48 yards, including 10 yards passing in the opening quarter against the worst defense statistically in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M ranked dead last in the conference allowing 460.1 yards per game entering play.
Key play: Displaying the kind of crazy playmaking ability that helped him become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Texas A&M sophomore Johnny Manziel heaved an off-balance, 32-yard touchdown to Derel Walker with Michael Sam bearing down. It restored the Aggies’ lead and blunted the Tigers’ momentum.
Key stat: Missouri owned 10 minutes, 16 seconds of possession in the second quarter, a complete 180 from the first quarter. The Tigers were far from crisp offensively in the first half, but stayed in the fight with a 94-yard touchdown drive and by limiting Manziel’s chances to do damage in the second period.
Key play: Two plays after overthrowing a wide open Marcus Lucas in the end zone, senior quarterback James Franklin connected with senior L’Damian Washington on a 5-yard fade for a touchdown. Originally, it was ruled incomplete, Washington protested vehemently and was vindicated when the call was reversed upon review.
Key stat: Missouri averaged 6 yards per carry in 11 rushes, dominating at the point of attack and opening up the passing game. Franklin took advantage, completing six of seven passes for 98 yards in the third quarter as the Tigers surged to a 21-14 lead after trailing for much of the game.
Key play: Missouri junior running back Henry Josey clinched the SEC East division championship outright and helped the Tigers earn a berth in the SEC championship gameat the Georgia Dome with a 57-yard touchdown scamper inside 4 minutes.
Key stat: Defensively, Missouri limited Texas A&M, which entered the game averaging 552.6 yards of total offense and 45.6 points, to only 153 yards and one touchdown in the second half. Were it not for the defense’s stellar performance, an at-times sluggish offense wouldn’t have been in position to mount a rally.
Player of the game: Senior linebacker Andrew Wilson. Wilson, a Raymore-Peculiar graduate, occasionally spied Manziel and finished with a team-high eight tackles, including two for a loss. He headlined a defense that stymied the Aggies’ vanuted attack, holding it 173 yards and 24 points below its season averages.
Reason to hope: Missouri will play for an SEC championship next week in only its second season in the conference. The Tigers have a stingy defense that bottled up one of the nation’s most potent attacks to earn an outright SEC East division title.
Reason to mope: Next up, is another of the best offenses in the country. Auburn ended Alabama’s reign as SEC champions by upsetting the two-time reigning champion Crimson Tide on a field-goal return for a touchdown with no time remaining. It’s going to be a different sort of challenge against a team that has shown a penchant for miraculous wins.
Looking ahead: Missouri will play for the SEC championship at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Tigers are gunning for their first outright conference championship since 1960.
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com
|B-||Offense||Missouri laid an egg offensively for the first quarter and a half, but senior quarterback James Franklin breathed life into the offense with his legs and helped the Tigers make enough plays to win. Texas A&M threw a lot of curveballs at Missouri’s offense, but halftime adjustments made all the difference.|
|A-||Defense||There were several big plays and some sloppy tackling at times, but overall it’s hard to criticize a defense that limited Johnny Manziel to the fewest yards of total offense (216) he’s ever had in a game he started for the Aggies. With 379 yards and 21 points, Texas A&M fell well short of its season averages (552.6 yards and 45.6 points)|
|B+||Special teams||On the plus side, Morgan Steward forced a fumble on a punt return, which John Gibson recovered and punter Christian Brinser, a Liberty graduate, dropped a couple punts inside the 20-yard line. But Andrew Baggett also missed a 47-yard field goal as the first half expired.|
|A-||Coaching||Offensive coordinator Josh Henson had trouble finding the right mix on offense early with Texas A&M lining up in unexpected formations, but some halftime adjustments netted three second-half touchdowns. The defensive game plan was solid and the players obviously didn’t shrink from the moment.|