Key play: Missouri left Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams uncovered out of the backfield and quarterback Brandon Allen, who started despite a hip injury at Mississippi that forced him to the sideline for the second half, found him for a 23-yard touchdown to cap an 11-play, 70-yard march.
Key stat: Arkansas was three of three on third down on its only drive of the first quarter, which was played in a brisk 27 minutes.
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Key play: Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk was sacked by Trey Flowers and fumbled, setting up Arkansas at the Tigers’ 19-yard line with 1:16 left before halftime after Taiwan Johnson’s fumble recovery. However, the original ruling was overturned upon review and MU marched for a last-second field goal given the reprieve.
Key stat: Tigers junior kicker Andrew Baggett drilled a 52-yard field goal, which is a career long by 6 yards and also snapped a shutout streak of 148 minutes, 58 seconds by the Razorbacks’ defense. Baggett added a 50-yard field goal as the first half expired.
Key play: Missouri mustered a 16-play, 73-yard march but came up empty when Baggett’s 35-yard try was blocked by Arkansas’ 6-foot-10 offensive tackle Dan Skipper. Neither team scored in the third period.
Key stat: Senior wide receiver Bud Sasser fumbled near midfield on Missouri’s second drive. It was only the second fumble the Tigers have lost this season. Sasser, who led MU with nine catches for 127 yards, also had a critical personal foul on the drive that ended with a missed field goal in the third quarter.
Key play: With Arkansas driving, Missouri junior linebacker Kentrell Brothers ripped the ball from running back Alex Collins’ grip and senior defensive end Markus Golden recovered the loose ball, effectively ending the Razorbacks’ upset bid.
Key stat: Missouri had 16 carries for 112 yards, including a pair of kneel-downs from the victory formation, in the fourth quarter. During the last two games, LSU and Mississippi had combined for 99 yards on 65 carries against the Arkansas run defense.
Player of the game: Senior defensive end Markus Golden. Golden finished with only three tackles, but two of them were for a loss. He also forced a fumble and recovered another, the game-clinching fumble by Alex Collins in the closing minutes. Golden also had two hurries for a defense that limited Arkansas to 288 total yards.
Reason to hope: Missouri’s defense has been playing at a championship level for most of the season. Certainly, the Tigers have been pretty stout defensively since the Sept. 20 loss against Indiana. Defense travels well, giving MU a shot against either Alabama or Mississippi State in the SEC Championship Game.
Reason to mope: It took more than three quarters for Missouri to get its offense cranked up against Arkansas. As well as the Razorbacks have been playing, Alabama and Mississippi State have more highly regarded defenses.
Looking ahead: Missouri’s win against Arkansas gave coach Gary Pinkel’s squad a second straight outright SEC East division championship. In the conference title game, the Tigers will face Alabama, if the Tide beats Auburn or Mississippi State loses to Mississippi, or Mississippi State, if the Bulldogs win and the Tide loses.
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Missouri’s offense topped 400 yards for the third straight week, and sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk played well, completing 25 of 42 passes for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Missouri had a few missed tackles on Arkansas’ first drive and also gave up a touchdown with a short field, but the Tigers limited the Razorbacks to 288 total yards and pitched a second-half shutout.
Andrew Baggett became the first MU kicker with two field goals 50 yards or more in a game. Of course, he also had a 35-yard kick blocked, Marcus Murphy muffed a punt and punter Christian Brinser had a tough day. The Tigers also got burned by a fake punt.
After a 34-0 shutout against Georgia on Oct. 11, few could have imagined Missouri making a run to the SEC Championship Game. Yet, the Tigers have won six straight and are Atlanta-bound again.