Campus Corner

Sunday Rewind: More from Missouri’s shocking loss to Indiana

Against Indiana, Missouri’s sophomore quarterback, Maty Mauk, set career highs for completions (28), attempts (47) and passing yards (326) and did it all while scrambling on nearly every play.
Against Indiana, Missouri’s sophomore quarterback, Maty Mauk, set career highs for completions (28), attempts (47) and passing yards (326) and did it all while scrambling on nearly every play. The Kansas City Star

Missouri lost a stunner Saturday against Indiana, which hadn’t beaten a ranked team on the road since 2004.

It was a bad enough loss that the Tigers, 3-1, are no longer a ranked team.

The Hoosiers’ 31-27 victory was a painful one for a fan base that has had its share of hard-to-swallow losses.

So where exactly does this one rank?

It’s eerily similar to a mid-November loss in 2012 against Syracuse, a defeat that cost Missouri a shot at bowl eligibility.

Not only was the final score identical, but the Orange scored late — though not as late as Indiana’s game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds left — against a defense missing arguably its best player.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was suspended against Syracuse, while senior defensive end Markus Golden sat out with a hamstring strain against Indiana.

Still, that was an injury-riddled team and victory was, by no means, guaranteed in that game.

The 2012 losses at home to Vanderbilt and at Florida were gut-wrenching, but that was a 5-7 team trying to feel its way through the SEC and playing with either a backup quarterback or a banged up one.

No, the loss against the Hoosiers was a blindside defeat — one nobody (except my buddy Steve Handoyo, who confessed to me last week he was buying the Indiana hype and was worried) saw coming.

The 2010 Insight Bowl comes to mind as well — middling Big Ten opponent, that maddening interception return.

Still, it was perceived as a guaranteed win for Missouri.

The 2010 Texas Tech game was a shock, but it also was a road loss.

That leaves Baylor in 2009 — a 40-32 stunner during an 8-5 season (or perhaps the loss to Navy in the Texas Bowl later that season, though the Tigers were disinterested and facing an offense that’s tough to stop even with absolute focus).

Anyway, here are few other observations from the Indiana game:

1. Missouri couldn’t have asked much more of Maty Mauk.

The Tigers’ sophomore quarterback set career highs for completions (28), attempts (47) and passing yards (326). He did it all while scrambling on nearly every play.

Mauk completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and the defense bailed him out on his only interception, an overthrow on the first pass of the second half.

He threw multiple touchdowns in his sixth consecutive start.

Mauk ranks second in the nation with 14 touchdowns and is on pace to break Chase Daniel’s program record for touchdowns in a season (39 in 2008).

2. The offensive line was a strength for Missouri in 2013.

Run or pass, it didn’t matter. The Tigers were incredibly well balanced, rushing for 3,330 yards and 35 touchdowns and passing for 3,540 yards with 31 touchdowns.

The offensive line has not been a strength for Missouri so far in 2014.

The Tigers are averaging 4.8 yards per carry, which is down from 5.7 last season and coach Gary Pinkel’s crew is just now reaching the most daunting stretch of its schedule.

Missouri also has only four rushing touchdowns in four games, so that ability to impose the offense’s will simply doesn’t exist right now.

Even worse, the Tigers are struggling in pass protection, too. It’s a bad trend with SEC play on the horizon.

3. Michael Scherer is one helluva player. He recorded a career-best 13 tackles against Indiana and leads Missouri with 41 on the season.

He’s smart and thoughtful and cares about the Tigers. He plays through pain (as evidenced by the ice pack he wore on his arm after the loss to the Hoosiers).

But he also showed some leadership Saturday as one of six Missouri players to address the media after the loss.

It’s easy for guys to come out and talk to us after a win, brag about the team or their teammates.

It’s much tougher to come out, sometimes with tear stains still visible on your cheeks, and answer a few questions about what went wrong.

Kudos to Mauk, Scherer, junior defensive end Shane Ray, senior wide receiver Bud Sasser, senior left tackle Mitch Morse and senior running back Marcus Murphy for falling on that sword.

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

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