In the end, it wasn’t a pretty or flashy victory. Missouri beat Arkansas State 41-19 after a slow start in the first half. It wasn’t a great win for Missouri, but it was still a win. And last time I checked, in the standings, a win is a win no matter how hard or how ugly it came.
The Red Wolves started the game by draining two straight field goals, both times the offense stalling out in the red zone. Missouri’s defense didn’t look great all night long, but credit its toughness in the red zone to keep ASU drives as field goals and not touchdowns. Missouri took the lead late in that quarter after a nice drive and a touchdown run by Marcus Murphy. It was 7-6 Mizzou after one.
In the second quarter, Missouri and Arkansas State traded touchdowns, keeping Mizzou up one heading into the half. James Franklin’s TD pass was to Dorial Beckham-Green, one of his two touchdowns on the night. DGB has been really coming into his role as number one receiver and red zone target early this season. The Tigers need him to keep up this production heading into SEC play; he is the great equalizer between Missouri and the South Carolinas and Georgias on the Tiger’s schedule.
After an early ASU field goal, putting the Red Wolves up briefly, it was all Mizzou. The Tigers poured on four touchdowns in the second half, playing like they were suppose to play all game. James Franklin would finish with 3 touchdown passes and 255 yards on the night. He was efficient, throwing no picks and completing 20-29 passes, but still has some work to do before he is ready for the meat of the Tiger’s SEC schedule. The Mizzou running backs finished with 239 yards, with Russell Hansbrough leading the way with 96 yards. Missouri has great depth at RB, with backups Josie and Murphy contributing a touchdown each, and that will help them a lot as they move into the final eight games of the season.
Missouri finished with 495 yards of total offense, beating the Red Wolves by 22 points. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Missouri really struggled in the first half, and need to get a lot better this week in practice before facing Vanderbilt in the first SEC game of the season. I’m a believer that Mizzou could go 5-0 even after watching this game, but the Tigers still have a long way to go before beating some of the Top 25 teams that are on the schedule later. But for tonight, it was a grind it out style win, and the Tigers will take it, moving to 4-0.