Been a while since I’ve hung onto a game loss this long. 8-4 sounds so much better than 7-5. So close to 9-3 and a Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. That Missouri loss was awful just awful. Slots in Shreveport has no appeal for the holidays.
This loss has haunted me more than usual, too. Probably a number of factors play into that. We were clearly the better team so that makes it hurt. We had a huge half-time lead so that makes it hurt. It’s the last game of the season, so that makes it hurt. A win might have put us into the top 25 so that hurts. 8-4 is another year of improvement while 7-5 is not, so that makes it hurt.
The whole fanbase is hurting because of this one. No doubt about it.
It hurt a lot for me because I went into the game dreading what would happen. Fully expected a loss in this situation, based on the history of how Bielema manages things. Then we jumped up to a big halftime lead. Surely that was safe. We just had to trade punches the rest of the way, no problem, right?
That was the first time Missouri had shut out an FBS opponent in the second half all season. Arkansas had a pattern of scoring 2x as much in the first half as the second, not all or nothing. We got some of all that had made this season dreadful in its worst moments – defense giving up huge plays, offense failing repeatedly in the red zone, turnovers, three passes and punt, three runs and punt, ill-timed sacks and penalties, all of it.
Everything that had seemed to be fixed flew apart again.
I sat/stood there in the second half Friday with what my brother would describe as a slack-jawed look on my face. What the heck is happening out there?
After four days to process it…
Missouri decided to sell out on defense, and we couldn’t handle it. Or make them pay for it. I think we should have run a lot more screen passes, including in some of the red zone situations in the fourth quarter. Their blitzes took out both our running and throwing games.
We made some incredibly dumb plays; Bijhon Jackson swatting the ball on fourth down, falling for the fake punt, etc. But Mizzou made us pay. They still had to drive 80 yards after the fake punt, for instance, and they did.
Lock missed some open throws throughout the game, but missed fewer of them in the second half. Give him credit, he made the plays, then Strong got the ball into the end zone. When they had to opportunity to score, they did – 4 for 4. As for us…
Missed opportunities, missed opportunities. Missed field goal, three other trips into the red zone with no points. In retrospect, we should have kicked the field goal with four minutes left to get it to 28-27 instead of throwing the fourth-down pick. Then we could have kicked to win at the end instead of throwing into the end zone. We outgained them by 100 yards, even with our defensive failures, but still lost.