What was a one touchdown game early in the fourth quarter, turned into a 21-point blowout as the Missouri Tigers self-destructed in a 41-20 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, in the program’s first league game in the SEC.
The downfall actually started early in the fourth quarter. After Marlon Brown caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray that put Georgia up 24-20, the Missouri coaching staff went into panic mode. Faced with a 4th and 11 at their own 35, the Tigers lined up to punt , but Trey Barrow ran a fake and made it just three yards, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Mizzou 38.
“I have been doing this for a long time and a coach never calls something that he thinks will not work. When they work, they are good calls and when they don’t they are bad calls,” Head coach Gary Pinkel said when asked about the strategy behind the call.
AUDIO Gary Pinkel defends his fake punt call (5:30)
Fans on Twitter blasted Pinkel for his decision.
-Matt Bartlett @matt_bart
Our chance to show the SEC we belong, and Pinkel draws up the worst fake punt ever. What a joke. #Mizzou
-Andrea Chapman @STL_Blonde
Let’s run the slowest guy on the team for a 1st down. #PinkelFAIL #MIZZOU #UGAvMIZZ
-Nigel Duara @nigelduara
Gary Pinkel hasn’t learned anything about fake kicks or fake punts. Oklahoma in 2003, meet Georgia in 2012. #Mizzou
-Brad Willis @_otis_
I am lost for words. My kid fakes punts in his own territory on Madden. #Mizzou
Georgia fans mock Mizzou with “Old Man Football” chant
Georgia’s drive stalled at the 23, but a field goal put the Bulldogs up by a touchdown. Mizzou was backed up deep in their own territory after a Georgia punt with 8:23 to play. After a pass interference penalty, gave the Tigers a first down at their 19, James Franklin was picked off by linebacker Jarvis Jones who brought it back to the Mizzou one. Franklin made a bad read going right over the middle where Jones waited for an easy pick. Gurley took it in on the next play to push the advantage to 34-20.
That pass over the middle was open all game for Franklin who hit Marcus Lucas for a 41 yard touchdown late in the second quarter and a 69 yard pass to La’Damian Washington that put Mizzou up 17-9.
After the Georgia touchdown, Franklin turned the ball over again as Jones stripped the ball from Franklin at the Tiger 20 and the ball was recovered on the Mizzou five. Eventually, Georgia tacked on a six yard from Ken Malcome to turn the game into a laugher.
“It’s a seven point ball game until we give them the ball on the one-yard line and inside the three. You will never, ever win a game like that,” Pinkel said of the fourth quarter collapse.
Mizzou focused on trying to establish a rushing game, but gained just eight yards on 20 carries in the first half. To Mizzou’s credit, they stayed with the run and it eventually opened up the passing game, once the Tigers started taking shots down field.
The defense looked impressive and showed they have the speed to stick with SEC schools. The problem lies in a lack of speed deeper down the depth chart. As the game wore on, the Tigers defense looked like they lost a step and tired out. Brad Madison had two first half sacks, Will Ebner had nine tackles, including seven solo stops and Donovan Bonner had an interception.
The Tigers suffered two injuries, one a big blow again to the offensive line. Elvis Fisher, has an MCL issue in his right knee and Pinkel did not seem optimistic. Linebacker Zavier Gooden suffered a pulled hamstring.