Top-ranked Alabama blew out Missouri 42-10 Saturday in Columbia, dropping the Tigers to 0-4 in SEC play. Crimson Tide halfback Eddie Lacy ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns on just 18 carries. T.J. Yeldon added another 144 yards and two scores on the ground. Quarterback A.J. McCarron threw only five incompletions. Alabama built a 28-0 lead in the first 22 minutes. Local clergymen were asking Nick Saban to allow Missouri a single touchdown.
It's funny: I had so much respect for Alabama coming in that, in a game in which the Tide won by 32 and outgained Mizzou by 404 yards (!), my initial thought after the game was "Eh, Mizzou wasn't terrible." I mean ... they were early on, but most of the big plays that defined the game happened because Alabama was just a lot better than Missouri. Mizzou's pass defense was solid (Bama averaged 6.4 yards per pass outside of the flea flicker), and I was actually semi pleased with some of the carries (and run blocking) by Kendial Lawrence and Russell Hansbrough. The problem was that Mizzou's passing game never even had a slight chance of succeeding versus Alabama (which we kind of expected), and Alabama's run game had a bigger advantage than I anticipated. Much bigger, actually.
With Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama in the rear view mirror, starting quarterback James Franklin scheduled to return from injury soon, and Missouri entering a bye week, Tiger fans are seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel:
It will not be a flawless team -- we don't know what to expect from a receiving corps that has had a terribly disappointing three weeks, we don't yet know Eric Waters' status (who is kind of the team's only blocking tight end at the moment), we don't know if the special teams unit can stay out of its own way enough to take advantage of Marcus Murphy's awesome returns (Murphy has now scored four times on returns in 2012 and is just one score behind what Jeremy Maclin did in two years), and we don't know if Mizzou will be good enough to beat either Florida (almost certainly not), Tennessee (maybe) or Texas A&M (doubtful) on the road to get back on track to bowl eligibility. The damage from the first half of the season was extensive. But there is still a lot to play for, and the odds are good that Mizzou will play well enough to at least keep things interesting.
Mizzou returns to action in two weeks against 1-6 Kentucky.