It was business as as usual for the Missouri Tigers, as they dismantled Division I-AA Western Illinois, 69-0, at Faurot Field, never allowing the visting Leathernecks any illusion of being in the game. The fireworks started with Missouri quarterback James Franklin's 37-yard touchdown pass to receiver Wes Kemp (his first of two scores) at the 11:32 mark of the first quarter. From there, things just got uglier and uglier for the visiting squad. By half-time, the scoreboard read 42-0. Here is how the various units executed in their warm-up to next week's match-up with the top-ranked team in the nation:
Where to start? The Tigers probably could have won this game without throwing the ball at all. The offensive line dominated the startled Leathernecks' defensive front all day long. Missouri runners--paced by Henry Josey's 263 yards and 3 touchdowns--ran all over the field, totaling an impressive 428 yards, good for almost 8 yards a clip. Perhaps most importantly, Franklin did not have to carry the ball much, given Josey's impressive starting debut.
When Franklin did throw the ball, he was effective, completing 18 of 25 passes for 246 yards, 3 touchdown passes, and another zero-turnover day. Even his backup quarterback, Jimmy Costello, came in and tossed a 54-yard touchdown pass for good measure. The Tigers will need the best of Franklin's arm and legs next week.
Giving up one first down all day is a pretty good day at the office. The Tiger defense harassed Leatherneck quarterback Josh Hudson into a dismal 4 for 15 passing effort. Nothing was doing on the ground either, as Western Illinois averaged less than one yard per carry.
Special Teams: B+
The punting unit didn't get much work, but the kickoff team definitely did. When Western Illinois return man Larry Patterson rattled off a 43-yard return, it appeared as if kickoff returns might be the Leathernecks' best shot at scoring any points. A punt return for a touchdown by Missouri's E.J. Gaines boosted the final tally, but the outcome had long been decided by then. Kicker Grant Ressel was perfect on 9 extra points and 2 field goals, but none were any longer than 28 yards.
The Tigers cannot bask long in today's easy victory, because heavy preparation lies ahead for next week's conference contest at Oklahoma.