Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri lost a lot Saturday.
The Tigers lost left guard Anthony Gatti to an ACL injury. They lost defensive end Markus Golden for the game to a nagging hamstring injury. They even lost their nation-leading streak of forcing a turnover in 47 straight games.
But the loss that will sting most was on the scoreboard. The Tigers fell 31-27 to Indiana in their first pre-conference play home defeat since 2005.
“We haven’t lost around here for a long time, so our guys are, they’re suffering right now,” coach Gary Pinkel said.
After the Tigers scored 10 straight points to grab the lead with 2:20 remaining, the Missouri defense needed a stop to remain undefeated. It looked like the Tigers might have gotten it, too, when a fourth-down pass from Nate Sudfeld fell incomplete. But a late flag flew in for a pass-interference call, and Indiana had new life.
The Hoosiers took advantage, picking up 44 yards on the next play with a screen to Tevin Coleman, and D’Angelo Roberts punched in a 3-yard run two plays later with 22 seconds remaining.
Pinkel called a timeout with :26 left before Roberts’ touchdown, but he let nearly 20 seconds tick away before stopping the clock.
“I wish I had called it sooner,” Pinkel said afterward.
The Tigers couldn’t respond with such little time remaining. A roughing-the-passer call on Indiana gave Missouri an untimed down to try something miraculous, but Marcus Murphy was instantly swallowed up on a 16-yard completion, and the Tigers fell to a non-conference foe at home for the first time since a 2012 loss to Syracuse.
Whether or not the absences of Gatti and Golden hindered the Tigers, the offensive and defensive lines were certainly sore spots for Missouri.
Mauk was constantly harried by the Hoosiers’ defensive line, and the sophomore quarterback made his scrambles look as routine as a three-step drop. Mauk was sacked twice, a number that could have easily tripled if Mauk were simply a pocket passer.
Defensively, the Hoosiers seemed to attack the left side of Missouri’s line, where Golden would typically reside. Golden is expected to return next week. Pinkel said the co-captain was injured in Wednesday’s practice and woke up Saturday feeling unable to play.
Bud Sasser was a steadying influence in an otherwise inconsistent Missouri offense. The co-captain receiver caught 11 balls for 142 yards, bailing out Mauk at times.
Russell Hansbrough also was a bright spot for Missouri. He ran for 119 yards. However, he only received 10 carries and Missouri struggled to ever establish a consistent run game. Murphy was held to 32 yards on 13 carries.
All told, the Tigers finished with 498 yards of total offense but were only able to tally three touchdowns. Indiana had 493 yards of its own, including 132 on the ground from Coleman, who was on the sideline for a good chunk of the first half.
Missouri’s turnover streak, which streched back to Nov. 6, 2010, had been a staple of the defense’s ball-hawking approach, and it’s no coincidence it ended in a loss.
“Takeaways are big momentum changers in games,” defensive end Shane Ray said, “and it’s our job as a defense to go get that ball out and get it back to the offense, so they can put it in the end zone. So today, the streak broke, but it’s time to start it back up again and get back to doing to what we do.”
The Hoosiers, however, started its own two-game turnover streak. Mauk threw an ill-advised ball straight into the hands of Indiana’s Mark Murphy to begin the second half. Missouri’s defense gave the offense a do-over, holding Indiana to a 41-yard field goal attempt, which Aaron Del Grosso missed.
The Tigers will try to use the upset as motivation as Missouri kicks off its Southeastern Conference schedule Saturday at South Carolina. The Gamecocks handed Missouri its only home loss last season.
“This is our coming-to-Jesus moment, guys,” co-captain Mitch Morse said. “I promise you this week is going to be the best week of practice we’ve ever had.”