Nov 13, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak (8) gestures at the line of scrimmage against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri QB Connor Bazelak to transfer

Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak is entering the transfer portal.

Bazelak made the announcement on social media Thursday, a day after the Tigers’ 24-22 loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. He didn’t appear in the game despite playing in 11 games on the season.

The Tigers announced he’d miss the game with a leg injury, but coach Eliah Drinkwitz had opened the competition for starting quarterback as the team prepared for the bowl game. Redshirt freshman Brady Cook started in his place.

“This has been a tough decision that I have been thinking about for the last several weeks, but I wanted to be available for my team one last time in the bowl game,” Bazelak wrote, in part, in a statement posted to Twitter. “After much prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided to enter the transfer portal to continue my academic and athletic career.”

Bazelak will have two years of eligibility at a new program.

In 2021, Bazelak threw for 2,574 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In three seasons with the Tigers, Bazelak threw for 5,084 yards with 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also ran for two touchdowns.

In 2020, he was the Southeastern Conference co-Freshman of the Year.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Elijah Young (4) breaks through a hole in the line against the Missouri Tigers during the first quarter of the 2021 Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Army’s last-second field goal downs Mizzou in Armed Forces Bowl

Cole Talley’s 41-yard field goal as time expired lifted Army past Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night in Fort Worth, Texas.

Third-string quarterback Jabari Laws came off the bench to lead the winning drive for the Black Knights (9-4).

No. 2 quarterback Tyhier Tyler threw a 14-yard touchdown pass and starting quarterback Christian Anderson had a 22-yard TD run before sustaining an ankle injury in the third quarter.

Brady Cook completed 27 of 34 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown for Missouri (6-7). He also rushed for 53 yards and a score.

Missouri played without running back Tyler Badie, who ranked third nationally with 1,604 rushing yards and second with 161.6 all-purpose yards per game. On Tuesday, Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz announced he would protect Badie from injury ahead of the NFL Draft.

Drinkwitz also chose to play Cook over Connor Bazelak, who started 11 of Missouri’s 12 regular season games at quarterback.

The Tigers opened the game with 72-yard touchdown drive capped by Cook’s 30-yard scoring run on an option keeper.

After Talley missed a 43-yard field goal attempt for Army, the Tigers increased their lead to 10-0 by marching 69 yards for Harrison Mevis’ 22-yard field goal.

The Black Knights countered with a 75-yard touchdown drive to cut their deficit to 10-7. The key play was Anderson’s 42-yard pass to Tyrell Robinson, and the finishing play was Anderson’s 22-yard TD run.

Missouri controlled the rest of the half while taking a 16-7 lead on 25- and 39-yard field goals by Mevis. The Tigers outgained the Black Knights 272-132 while scoring on all four of their possessions before the break.

But Army flipped the script in the second half.

The Black Knights opened by moving 75 yard to cut the deficit to 16-14 on Jakobi Buchanan’s 10-yard TD run.

After stuffing Missouri a fourth-down run, Army moved downfield to take a 21-16 lead on Tyler’s 14-yard TD pass to Brandon Walters.

The Tigers got the ball on their 17-yard line with 2:44 left. Cook completed 7 of 9 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown to put Missouri up 22-21 with 1:11 left, but he missed a wide-open Dawson Downing on the two-point conversion pass attempt.

That left the door ajar for Laws to come off the bench and lead the winning rally.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) readies for the snap against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Army favored over Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl

The Army Black Knights regard their annual showdown with Navy as their marquee game.

After Army (8-4) fell to the Midshipmen 17-13 on Dec. 11, the team had to regroup before preparing to face Missouri (6-6) in the Armed Services Bowl on Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas.

“They’re hurt,” Army coach Jeff Monken said of his players regarding the loss to Navy. “For most competitors that really care, it’s not going to go away in 24 hours. It’s not going to go away for a while. And that’s OK. It tells me that they care.

“I mean, if they came in and they were laughing and joking and it didn’t bother them, I’d be worried. But it bothers our guys. It bothers me. I’m mad and dejected. You’re gonna feel that way. It’s our biggest game of the year, our biggest rivalry. We want to beat them more than we want to beat anybody.”

Monken added, “I’m glad we don’t have to finish the season on that disappointing loss. We get a chance to play again. There will be motivation to try to win the last one, try to beat Missouri in the bowl game.”

Army enters the game as a 6.5-point favorite at DraftKings, where the Black Knights have been backed by 65 percent of the bets and 83 percent of the money.

The matchup will send one of the nation’s top rushing attacks against one of the country’s worst run defenses.

Army averages 286.4 yards rushing per game, second in the nation, with its triple-option attack. Missouri ranks 125th out of 130 FBS teams in run defense, allowing 228.8 yards per game.

The Black Knights have a balanced ground game with running backs Tyrell Robinson (603 yards, three touchdowns), Jakobi Buchanan (438 yards, 11 TDs) and Anthony Adkins (347 yards, five TDs) joining with quarterbacks Christian Anderson (586 yards, seven TDs) and Tyhier Tyler (478 yards, seven TDs).

Both Anderson (28-for-59, 653 yards, five TDs, no interceptions) and Tyler (17-for-20, 285 yards, four TDs, no interceptions) can make plays in the passing game as well.

“They’ve got two dynamic quarterbacks,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “Both of them present different strengths. We’re going to have to prepare for the option, but they do spread out and run some conventional offense, too, which creates a whole other set of issues.”

Army struggled against the Midshipmen on the ground, gaining just 124 yards on 33 carries.

“They beat blocks, they just destroyed blocks,” Monken said. “They just did a much better job defending us than we did attacking them on offense. We tried different things and none of them worked. We just got outplayed.”

Missouri’s offense is retooling on the go. On Wednesday, coach Eliah Drinkwitz announced running back Tyler Badie (1,604 yards rushing, 330 yards receiving, 18 total touchdowns) is entering the NFL draft and won’t play in the game.

And Missouri is throwing a new quarterback on the field, too.

Brady Cook will make his first career start, replacing Connor Bazelak, who threw for 2,548 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season. After a rough outing against Arkansas to end the regular season, Drinkwitz decided to reconsider his quarterback options.

“Brady Cook has had really an outstanding past two weeks whether it was the Saturdays and Sundays that we practiced during the recruiting weekend or the way he’s put himself out there to lead,” Drinkwitz said. “And everybody competed for it, but I think for our football team right now it’s his opportunity to play, and we’ll be ready if something else presents itself, but going into the game, Brady will be our starting quarterback.”

The 54.0-point Over/Under at DraftKings has seen 55 percent of the bets and 57 percent of the money placed on the Under.

As for Badie, Drinkwitz said he and running backs coach Curtis Luper made the decision not to play the star in consideration of his future.

“If you truly value your team like they’re your own sons, sometimes you look at things a little bit differently,” Drinkwitz said. “I tried to sit there, or we tried to sit there and say, ‘What if something went wrong?’ And I had to look myself in the mirror and I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t do that.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak (8) hands the ball off to running back Tyler Badie (1) during the first quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri RB Tyler Badie to enter draft, skip Armed Forces Bowl

Missouri record-setting running back Tyler Badie said Tuesday he will enter the 2022 NFL Draft, and will not play in Wednesday’s Armed Forces Bowl.

The Tigers (6-6) will face Army (8-4) in the bowl in Fort Worth, Texas.

He announced his intention on social media.

Badie set a Missouri single-season record with 1,604 rushing yards. He had 14 rushing touchdowns, plus four more scores on 54 receptions for 330 yards. He was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference.

The 5-foot-8 back from New Orleans had one year of eligibility remaining.

At an Armed Forcces Bowl news conference on Tuesday, coach Eliah Drinkwitz said he and running backs coach Curtis Luper made the decision to hold Badie out of the game due to the risk of injury.

“I know that if we asked him to play, he would play and he would take every rep just like he did against Arkansas with over 40 carries,” Drinkwitz said. “But I cannot do that to that young man and as a program we’re not gonna do that. We thank him for all that he’s done. He’s been a tremendous leader and captain for our football team and will continue to do that for us tomorrow. He’ll just be serving our football team in a different way.”

Dawson Dunning will start at running back. He had 10 carries for 83 yards with one touchdown on the season.

Drinkwitz also said redshirt freshman Brady Cook will make his first start at quarterback in place of sophomore starter Connor Bazelak. The job was up for grabs after Bazelak, who started 11 games this season, threw for just 65 yards and an interception in a 34-17 loss to Arkansas to end the regular season.

In 2021, Bazelak threw for 2,548 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Cook completed 19 of 24 pass attempts for 107 yards and a touchdown.

“Brady Cook has had really an outstanding past two weeks whether it was the Saturdays and Sundays that we practiced during the recruiting weekend or the way he’s put himself out there to lead,” Drinkwitz said. “And everybody competed for it, but I think for our football team right now it’s his opportunity to play, and we’ll be ready if something else presents itself, but going into the game, Brady will be our starting quarterback.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 11, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Army Black Knights running back Jakobi Buchanan (33) carries the ball against the Navy Midshipmen during the second half of the 122nd Army-Navy game. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army’s run game takes aim at Mizzou’s defense in Armed Forces Bowl

The Army Black Knights regard their annual showdown with Navy as their marquee game.

So after Army (8-4) fell to the Midshipmen 17-13 on Dec. 11, the team had to regroup before preparing to face Missouri (6-6) in the Armed Services Bowl on Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas.

“They’re hurt,” Army coach Jeff Monken said of his players regarding the loss to Navy. “For most competitors that really care, it’s not going to go away in 24 hours. It’s not going to go away for a while. And that’s OK. It tells me that they care.

“I mean, if they came in and they were laughing and joking and it didn’t bother them, I’d be worried. But it bothers our guys. It bothers me. I’m mad and dejected. You’re gonna feel that way. It’s our biggest game of the year, our biggest rivalry. We want to beat them more than we want to beat anybody.”

However, Monken added, “I’m glad we don’t have to finish the season on that disappointing loss. We get a chance to play again. There will be motivation to try to win the last one, try to beat Missouri in the bowl game.”

The matchup will send one of the nation’s top rushing attacks against one of the country’s worst run defenses.

Army averages 286.4 yards rushing per game, second in the nation, with its triple-option attack. Missouri ranks 125th out of 130 FBS teams in run defense, allowing 228.8 yards per game.

The Black Knights have a balanced ground game with running backs Tyrell Robinson (603 yards, three touchdowns), Jakobi Buchanan (438 yards, 11 TDs) and Anthony Adkins (347 yards, five TDs) joining with quarterbacks Christian Anderson (586 yards, seven TDs) and Tyhier Tyler (478 yards, seven TDs).

Both Anderson (28-for-59, 653 yards, five TDs, no interceptions) and Tyler (17-for-20, 285 yards, four TDs, no interceptions) can make plays in the passing game as well.

“They’ve got two dynamic quarterbacks,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “Both of them present different strengths. We’re going to have to prepare for the option, but they do spread out and run some conventional offense, too, which creates a whole other set of issues.”

Army struggled against the Midshipmen on the ground, gaining just 124 yards on 33 carries.

“They beat blocks, they just destroyed blocks,” Monken said. “They just did a much better job defending us than we did attacking them on offense. We tried different things and none of them worked. We just got outplayed.”

Missouri’s offense is more focused, with running back Tyler Badie (1,604 yards rushing, 330 yards receiving, 18 total touchdowns) doing the heavy lifting.

Quarterback Connor Bazelak has passed for 2,548 yards and 16 TDs this season, but he has been pushed by backups Tyler Macon and Brady Cook during the bowl practices.

“It’s been really good, great competition,” Drinkwitz said. “And been wide open, been rotating who goes with the (first team). … We’re continuing to improve our decision-making and accuracy downfield.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Tyler Badie (1) celebrates after a play against the Florida Gators in overtime at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri defeats Florida in overtime

Connor Bazelak, under a heavy rush, floated a desperation two-point conversion pass to tight end Daniel Parker Jr. as the host Missouri Tigers upset the Florida Gators 24-23 in SEC play on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

On the previous play, Tyler Badie ran for a 13-yard touchdown to cut Missouri’s deficit to 23-22. Missouri (6-5, 3-4 SEC) then opted to go for a two-point conversion, and the connection made the Tigers bowl eligible.

Florida (5-6, 2-6) entered the game as an eight-point favorite.

The Gators had the ball first in overtime, and wide receiver Trent Whittemore tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Emory Jones.

Gators wide receiver Jacob Copeland was one of the stars of the game with eight catches for 102 yards. Jones completed 20 of 32 passes for 261 yards.

Badie ran for 146 yards and one TD on 27 carries. He was held to just 19 yards on eight first-half carries.

Bazelak, who heard some boos earlier in the game, completed 15 of 26 passes for 165 yards and one TD.

Missouri had just 118 yards of total offense in the first half, going 1-for-7 on third-down conversions. Yet, the Tigers led 9-6 as Harrison Mevis went 3-for-3 on field goals, converting from 39, 46 and 31 yards.

Florida, held to 188 yards of offense, converted on just 3-of-9 third-down chances. Chris Howard went 2-for-2 on field goals, scoring from 42 and 26 yards for the Gators.

The longest drive of the first half was Missouri’s nine-play, 74-yard march that gave the Tigers their first lead of the game, 9-6, with 94 seconds left in the second quarter.

That drive was kept alive when Florida’s Mohamoud Diabate jumped offside on fourth-and-1 from Missouri’s 21-yard line. In addition, Missouri’s Tauskie Dove caught a 50-yard “jump ball” reception.

However, Florida went back on top, 13-9, on Dameon Pierce’s 2-yard run with 12:52 left in the third. The TD was set up by Whittemore’s 45-yard catch and run.

Missouri regained the lead, 16-13, on Bazelak’s 41-yard pass to tight end Niko Hea, who got behind the defense and ran the final 26 yards with the reception. Earlier in the drive, Florida’s Kaiir Elam intercepted a pass, but that was negated due to a holding penalty on him.

Florida tied the score 16-16 on Howard’s 33-yard field goal with 8:30 left. The drive was set up by a fourth-and-2 conversion from the Missouri 41 as Jones tossed a short pass to running back Malik Davis for 17 yards.

With 64 seconds left, Missouri had a chance to take the lead, but Mevis — after a high snap — missed wide right on a 46-yarder.

It was only his second miss in 19 tries this season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws the ball against the Samford Bulldogs during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida, Missouri battle for bowl eligibility after up-and-down seasons

The Florida Gators and Missouri Tigers will be battling for bowl eligibility when they meet Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

The Gators (5-5 overall, 2-5 SEC) snapped a three-game losing streak last Saturday with a 70-52 victory over FCS opponent Samford.

The Tigers (5-5, 2-4) are coming into the pivotal game at Faurot Field after posting a 31-28 victory over South Carolina.

“Obviously it’s going to be a very difficult game,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “(The Gators are) very talented on both sides of the football, and know that they’re not where they want to be from a season standpoint, but when you watch the tape, it’s hard to exactly pinpoint why. They’ve got really good football players on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Their defensive line is as good as anybody that we’ve played.”

Both teams have used multiple quarterbacks. Florida coach Dan Mullen expects to start Emory Jones there this week while limiting Anthony Richardson to certain offensive packages.

Jones passed for 464 yards and six touchdowns against Samford. He also ran for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Mullen praised Jones’ leadership and perseverance through Florida’s recent struggles. The Gators trailed Samford 42-35 at halftime.

“Instead of, ‘Hey defense, you need to pick it up’ (it was), ‘Don’t worry about that. I’m going to go execute at a high level, we’re going to go score points on offense and that will encourage and elevate the level of play in the defense eventually,’” Mullen said.

“You just go perform and make plays. And when you do that, you will elevate everybody around you.”

Richardson has recovered from a concussion and a knee injury and he has resumed practicing at full strength.

“He’s 100 percent as far as I know at Monday at 1:30, so he’s available to play this week,” Mullen said. “But I mean, Emory’s been playing really well.”

With Connor Bazelak injured, Missouri split the quarterback duties between Tyler Macon and Brady Cook during their 43-6 loss at Georgia two weeks ago.

Bazelak returned to start against South Carolina and passed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but he had two costly interceptions. Cook relieved him to close out the game.

Drinkwitz entered this week undecided about which quarterback will start against the Gators.

“We’re going to compete today in practice, today and tomorrow, see where we’re at and who gives us the best chance to win,” Drinkwitz said at his Tuesday news conference.

Florida will be seeking a much stronger defensive effort after allowing Samford to score 35 first-half offensive points and pile up 28 first downs and 530 yards overall.

The Gators will be focused on Missouri running back Tyler Badie, who has 1,239 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing and 337 yards and four touchdowns receiving this season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks running back MarShawn Lloyd (1) stiff arms Florida Gators safety Rashad Torrence II (22) in the third quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina strives to run all over Missouri

South Carolina aims to secure bowl eligibility when they face Missouri in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference encounter at Columbia, Mo.

The Gamecocks (5-4, 2-4 SEC) are coming off an uplifting 40-17 victory over Florida. Before rolling over the Gators, they had scored just 23 points or fewer in their previous seven games.

South Carolina will catch the Tigers (4-5, 1-4) coming off a 43-6 road loss to the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs. Missouri is still looking for its first SEC home victory of the season at Faurot Field.

With top Gamecocks quarterbacks Luke Doty and Zeb Noland injured, Jason Brown started against Florida and completed 14 of 24 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown passed for 3,124 yards with 28 touchdowns in 18 games (including 12 starts) at FCS school St. Francis (Pa.) before transferring to South Carolina. But he spent much of the season at No. 3 on the Gamecocks’ depth chart.

Doty is out for the season with a foot injury. Noland resumed practicing after recovering from minor knee surgery, but Brown will start against Missouri.

“He’s got a great work ethic,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said of Brown. “He has had to put in a lot of work. We told him he needed to lose weight after spring practice. … Then just from a physical standpoint, footwork, throwing the ball, and from a mental standpoint.

“He’s gotten very comfortable, confident in what he’s doing it.”

South Carolina outgained Florida 284-82 on the ground while averaging 6.8 yards per carry. They built a time-of-possession advantage of more than 12 1/2 minutes.

Now the Gamecocks face a Missouri defense that has allowed 270.2 yards per game on the ground, the second-highest average among FBS schools.

Defensively, the Gamecocks will have to prepare for multiple quarterbacks. With Missouri starter Connor Bazelak sidelined Saturday by injury, Tyler Macon and Brady Cook alternated at quarterback.

Macon was the better runner against Georgia (42 yards on 11 carries) while Cook was the better passer (14 of 19, 78 yards).

“I thought those guys both played really hard, they both showed a lot of toughness, and they both did some really good things,” Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t play well enough at that position to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Bazelak returned to practice this week, albeit at less than 100 percent, so there is a chance he could play against the Gamecocks.

“How we play this game will be determined based on where we’re at after (Wednesday’s) practice and who we feel like is available and why they’re available and that will determine the direction that we go,” Drinkwitz said.

Whoever plays quarterback for Missouri will rely heavily on running back Tyler Badie, who has rushed for 1,030 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 45 passes for 315 yards and four TDs.

–Field Level Media

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart walks out of the tunnel with his team at the start of the annual Florida Georgia rivalry game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Fla. October 30, 2021.

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Mizzou keeping QB a mystery; 5-TD underdogs at No. 1 Georgia

Top-ranked Georgia and visiting Missouri will collide Saturday in a game between teams aiming for different results for the 2021 season.

Georgia (8-0, 6-0 SEC) clinched its fourth conference East Division title in five years by coupling a win over Florida with Kentucky’s loss to Mississippi State last week.

The Bulldogs, already assured of a spot in the SEC title game Dec. 4, also are in control to reach the College Football Playoff for the first time since losing in the championship game in 2018.

“We are not really focused on that right now,” Georgia offensive lineman Justin Shaffer told reporters. “We are focused on Missouri because we have Missouri this week. When the time comes, we will celebrate, but right now we are still locked in for each game week by week.”

Missouri (4-4, 1-3) enters with a 37-28 win over Vanderbilt — the Tigers’ first conference victory this season — and stands two wins shy of becoming eligible to play in a bowl game.

Missouri is entering a stretch in which their final four opponents are .500 or better and all jockeying for bowl position.

After facing Georgia, Missouri hosts South Carolina (4-4, 1-4) on Nov. 13 and Florida (4-4, 2-4) on Nov. 20 before closing at Arkansas (5-3, 1-3) on Nov. 26.

But first, the Tigers have to get past Georgia after being installed by oddsmakers as 37-point underdogs.

Beating Georgia has been the impossible mission for Missouri since joining the SEC prior to the 2012 season. Georgia has won seven meetings in a row and eight of their past nine. Missouri is the lone SEC East that hasn’t beaten Georgia since coach Kirby Smart took over the Bulldogs before the 2016 season.

Under Smart, the Bulldogs are 5-0 against the Tigers, winning by an average of 20.4 points. Georgia has outscored Missouri 76-14 in the teams’ past two meetings.

Missouri’s offense is inconsistent and hasn’t been tried against a defense as loaded as this Georgia group.

The Bulldogs have given up a national-best 6.6 points per game. That’s more than a touchdown less than Cincinnati, which ranks second at 14.2 points per game. Georgia also ranks second nationally in total defense (226.6) and first downs allowed (104), rushing defense (75.6 ypg) and passing defense (151 ypg).

Georgia and Missouri have questions at quarterback.

Missouri quarterback and team captain Connor Bazelak suffered what coach Eli Drinkwitz said was a soft-tissue injury midway through the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt. He was replaced by true freshman Tyler Macon, who didn’t attempt a pass.

On Tuesday, Drinkwitz said there would be no injury updates, including those impacting his QB situation.

Macon and redshirt freshman Brady Cook were going to receive plenty of snaps in practice this week.

“I have no idea about anything other than practice today,” Drinkwitz told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re talking about practice today.”

If Macon makes his first start on Saturday in place of Bazelak (2,138 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs), he’ll look to get the ball to leading receivers Keke Chism (29 catches, 383 yards, 2 TDS) and Tauskie Dove (26 catches, 370 yards.)

Drinkwitz said he wants his team to focus on Georgia, and denied the team is anxious about measuring up to the No. 1 team in college football.

“Crud, why else would you do it? I don’t want to live life in the shadows,” he said. “Go out, see what you got. Take your best shot. … I’m not anxious about it at all. See you Saturday at noon.”

The Tigers will continue to lean on running back Tyler Badie, who rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries against the Commodores, bringing his season total to 989 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s also caught a team-high 40 passes for 305 yards and four scores.

Georgia’s Stetson Bennett has started the past five games for the Bulldogs in place of the injured JT Daniels, who has been out with a strained oblique.

Daniels has been able to practice recently.

Smart, who made reference to the importance of mobility at the position, said he’ll name a starter based on practice this week after Bennett went 10-of-19 passing for 161 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in a 34-7 win over Florida last week.

Zamir White (97 carries, 505 yards, 8 TDs) and James Cook (57 carries, 342 yards 3 TDs) fuel the ground game.

True freshman tight end Brock Bowers leads the team in receptions (26), yards (454) and receiving touchdowns (6), with redshirt freshman receiver Ladd McConkey also having a breakthrough season with 18 catches for 302 yards and two scores.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Mike Wright (5) attempts a pass during the first half against the Missouri Tigers at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Badie’s 294-yard day pushes Missouri past Vanderbilt

Tyler Badie piled up 294 total yards and scored two touchdowns as the Missouri Tigers outlasted the Vanderbilt Commodores 37-28 in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday.

The Tigers (4-4 overall, 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference) snapped their five-game conference losing streak. The Commodores (2-7, 0-5) lost their 18th straight SEC game.

Badie rushed 31 times for 254 yards and caught eight passes for 40 yards. Harrison Mevis kicked field goals of 46, 32 and 52 yards for Missouri to run his streak to 19 consecutive made field goals.

Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak completed 22 of 28 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown before suffering an injury with 6:47 left to play.

After rushing for just 9 yards last week against Mississippi State, Vanderbilt gained 258 yards on the ground.

Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright rushed for 152 yards and completed 14-of-28 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Patrick Smith rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown

Missouri broke out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead, scoring with Mevis’ 46-yard field goal and Badie’s 13-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers had a chance to expand that lead after blocking a Commodores punt and recovering it at the Vanderbilt 15-yard line.

But the momentum shifted when Max Worship intercepted Bazelak’s pass at the 2-yard line with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Two plays later Wright ran 69 yards up the right sideline to set up his 7-yard touchdown pass to Cam Johnson.

Vanderbilt moved ahead 14-10 with a 13-play, 84-yard touchdown drive capped by Smith’s 10-yard scoring run.

After the Commodores failed to convert a fake field goal attempt with 15 seconds left in the first half, the Tigers took a 17-14 lead with Bazelak’s 45-yard “Hail Mary” touchdown pass to Keke Chism as time expired.

Missouri expanded its lead to 24-14 in the third period with a seven-play, 59-yard touchdown drive capped by Badie’s 15-yard run.

The Commodores quickly cut the lead to 24-21. Wright’s 70-yard run set up his 4-yard touchdown shovel pass to Gavin Schoenwald.

Mevis’ 32-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter pushed Missouri’s lead to 27-21, then his 52-yarder made it 30-21.

The Commodores cut the lead to 30-28 with Wright’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Johnson. But Badie responded with a 73-yard run to set up the game-clinching 2-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Tyler Macon.

–Field Level Media