The key: Missouri senior linebacker Michael Scherer tackled Middle Tennessee senior I’Tavius Mathers for a 2-yard gain in the red zone, but Scherer also suffered a right knee injury that knocked him out of the game.
The key: Middle Tennessee sophomore Richie James caught a Brent Stockstill pass in the middle of the field, eluded three converging Mizzou defenders — senior cornerback Aarion Penton, sophomore safety Cam Hilton and redshirt freshman cornerback T.J. Warren — and dashed the remaining 56 yards for a touchdown.
The key: Freshman running back Damarea Crockett scored on a 21-yard touchdown, his fourth of the game. He’s the first true freshman in Mizzou history with four touchdowns in a game, and with 29 carries for 156 yards, he became the first true freshman with three 100-yard games.
The key: Stockstill, who finished 23 of 41 for 280 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, connected with senior wide receiver Dennis Andrews on a 5-yard touchdown that restored Middle Tennessee’s double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter and provided the game-winning points.
Missouri totaled 629 yards, but there were too many drops by wide receivers again and quarterback Drew Lock only completed half his passes. Plus, the false starts, yeesh.
Failing somehow doesn’t seem adequate here. Missouri gave up 300 yards rushing and 284 yards passing, didn’t get a turnover and remains a sieve when it comes to tackling.
The bad snap on a punt deep in its own territory was crushing for Mizzou, which gifted Middle Tennessee a touchdown and the halftime lead with the gaffe. Otherwise, special teams were OK.
There don’t seem to be many solutions available, and part of it might be personnel, but Mizzou hasn’t been in position to win down the stretch for a month now.
Player of the game: Middle Tennessee senior running back I’Tavius Mathers finished with a game-high 215 yards rushing in 28 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown. He added a game-high eight catches for 48 yards, with a 4-yard touchdown reception.
Reason to hope: The season’s almost half over and the offense showed signs of life again.
Reason to mope: Missouri’s bowl hopes are well and truly dead, for all intents and purposes. An already struggling defense lost three starters, including cornerback John Gibson and tackle Terry Beckner Jr.
Looking ahead: Missouri, which is the only SEC team without a conference win, returns to the conference grind against Kentucky at 11 a.m. next Saturday.