Sep 4, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Tyler Badie (1) scores a touchdown as Central Michigan Chippewas linebacker Nick Apsey (32) attempts the tackle during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri gets past Central Michigan to win season opener

Tyler Badie compiled 224 all-purpose and scored two touchdowns to lead the Missouri Tigers past the Central Michigan Chippewas 34-24 Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak completed 21 of 31 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chippewas played without head coach Jim McElwain, who underwent an appendectomy earlier in the week. Assistant head coach Tim Skipper guided the team in his absence.

Jacob Sirmon, a transfer from Washington, completed 23 of 46 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown in his first start for Central Michigan. Lew Nicholls III rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Central Michigan piled up 465 offensive yards, but two interceptions and 10 penalties for 80 yards undermined its upset bid.

Missouri scored just 29 seconds into the game. After Bazelak hit a 63-yard pass to D’ionte Smith, Badie scored on a 12-yard run.

Central Michigan immediately countered with a five-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game 7-7. Sirmon capped it with a 7-yard touchdown pass to JaCorey Sullivan.

The Chippewas moved ahead 14-7 with 6:08 left in the first half. Nicholls got the 88-yard drive rolling with a 27-yard run and he capped it with an 18-yard TD burst.

The Tigers responded with Bazelak’s swing pass to Badie for a 30-yard touchdown. Then Harrison Mevis hit a 53-yard field goal to put Missouri up 17-14 at the half.

Elijah Young’s 32-yard touchdown run pushed Missouri’s lead to 24-14 in the third quarter.

With Sirmon knocked out of the game for one play, back-up quarterback Daniel Richardson threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Sullivan to cut the lead to 24-21 with 11:52 left.

Bazelak’s 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Niko Hea restored Missouri’s 10-point lead.

Marshall Meeder’s 51-yard field goal cut Central Michigan’s deficit to 31-24, but Mevis answered with a 44-yard field goal with 59 seconds left.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; A general view of several Missouri Tigers helmets during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri OL J’Marion Gooch medically disqualified

Freshman offensive lineman J’Marion Gooch will not play at Missouri because of unspecified medical reasons, coach Eli Drinkwitz said Thursday.

The medical issue surfaced during a team physical.

Gooch was the No. 52 offensive lineman in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports, but he had more than two dozen scholarship offers, including from seven Southeastern Conference programs.

The 6-foot-7, 358-pound Gooch committed to Auburn, then flipped to Tennessee, before choosing Missouri.

He played at The King’s Academy in Seymour, Tenn., before transferring cross-state to Gallatin High School last fall.

–Field Level Media

Mar 6, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; The Missouri Tigers Golden Girls perform during the first half of the game against the LSU Tigers at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Missouri to hire Desiree Reed-Francois as AD

Missouri is in the process of hiring Desiree Reed-Francois as its new athletic director, according to multiple reports.

Reed-Francois has been athletic director at UNLV for the past four-plus years. She will replace Jim Sterk, who announced his resignation last month.

Reed-Francois, 49, will be the first woman AD at Missouri and, because of her Hispanic heritage, the first person of color in that role.

Reed-Francois recently signed a four-year extension at UNLV that runs through June 30, 2026. Published reports say the deal called for $420,000 in annual base salary.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sterk was making $700,000 in base salary.

Reed-Francois recently hired Kevin Kruger, son of Lon, as UNLV’s basketball coach.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan on the field before the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Rams coach Scott Linehan joins Missouri staff

Former NFL head coach Scott Linehan is joining the staff at Missouri as an offensive analyst.

“Scott Linehan is an exciting addition to our staff,” head caoch Eliah Drinkwitz said Thursday. “He’s a true veteran of the profession with experience at a variety of levels. We all look forward to working with him.”

Linehan, 57, has more than 30 years coaching experience in college and the NFL, beginning as wide receivers coach at Idaho in 1989, and his long career includes serving as the head coach of the then-St. Louis Rams from 2006-08. The Rams were 11-25 during his tenure.

In 2020, he was the passing game coordinator at LSU, following four seasons as the offensive coordinator and one as passing game coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys (2014-18). During his time in Dallas, the Cowboys won three NFC East titles.

Linehan becomes the third coach with NFL experience hired by Drinkwitz this offseason.

In January, the Tigers added Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator and Jethro Franklin as defensive line coach.

Wilks, with more than 25 years of experience in the college and pro ranks, was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

Franklin, a coach for 29 years, most recently worked with the defensive lines of the then-Oakland Raiders (2015-17) and Seattle Seahawks (2018-19).

Linehan’s son, Matt, also is on the staff as a graduate assistant. Like his father, Matt Linehan played quarterback at Idaho.

“I have great respect for Coach Drinkwitz and his vision for our program,” Scott Linehan said. “Mentoring collegiate players is an aspect of the profession I’ve always enjoyed and I’m thankful for this new role. Additionally, the opportunity to work with my son, Matt, as he begins his coaching career is truly special.”

The elder Linehan’s career also includes stops as offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions.

The Tigers were 5-5 last season in the first season for Drinkwitz.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz calls a timeout during the second half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Wednesday’s Music City Bowl ‘highly unlikely’

This week’s Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa is “highly unlikely” due to an uptick in COVID-19 numbers with the Tigers, The Athletic reported Sunday.

The Tigers (5-5) are scheduled to face the No. 15 Hawkeyes (6-2) on Wednesday afternoon in Nashville, Tenn.

Missouri lost its final two games of the regular season, including a 51-32 decision at Mississippi State on Dec. 19.

Iowa won its last six games after opening the Big Ten campaign with losses to Purdue and Northwestern.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers linebacker Nick Bolton (32) celebrates after a tackle during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri LB Bolton to skip senior season, prep for draft

Missouri and all-Southeastern Conference linebacker Nick Bolton announced Monday that he’s opting out of the Tigers’ bowl game — and his senior season — to begin prep for the 2021 NFL draft.

Bolton, a junior, is expected to be a first-round selection and is ESPN’s No. 3 prospect at inside linebacker.

“After prayer and conversation with my family, I’ve decided to forego my senior season, and will not be participating in the bowl game. I’m excited to chase my childhood dream and start preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft,” Bolton posted on Twitter.

Bolton leads the Tigers in tackles with 95, good for fifth in the SEC. He was first All-SEC last year and is expected to repeat that honor this year. He has five sacks and six passes defended.

Missouri (5-5) is scheduled to play Iowa in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz watches play from the sidelines during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou looks to boost bowl resume at Mississippi State

Missouri concludes its quest for favorable bowl placement on Saturday afternoon at Mississippi State.

The Tigers (5-4) were No. 25 in last week’s College Football Playoff ranking before losing to Georgia 49-14. They will get one of the Southeastern Conference’s bowl berths, but the outcome in Starkville, Miss., could determine which one.

“We’re going bowling,” first-year Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “We’re excited about going bowling. It’s an awesome opportunity for our team to get a chance to continue this journey together and play another game.”

Meanwhile the Bulldogs (2-7) battled adversity throughout a difficult year marked by COVID-19 complications. They fell 24-10 to Auburn last Saturday for their third consecutive loss.

“In the end, together with all the commotion and clutter, we’ve created one of the most joyless seasons on Earth,” first-year Bulldogs coach Mike Leach said. “And hopefully we have the presence of mind not to repeat it this way again.”

But Leach is hoping the Bulldogs can create a positive ending by beating Mizzou.

“They’re starting to play together better and better with the disruptions,” he said. “I think (winning) would be huge. We’ve been on the threshold of that against some really good teams for the last several weeks.”

While Leach is open to filling one of the bowl vacancies — sub-.500 teams are eligible this season — Drinkwitz is emphatic about playing on.

“We’re going to be in a great game because of the type of season we had,” Drinkwitz said. “Bowl games are still a reward for the season you had.”

Missouri is coping with injuries across its defensive front. Trajan Jeffcoat, Kobie Whiteside, Markell Utsey and Chris Turner are all questionable to play in this game.

The depleted Tigers have struggled to stop the run in their last two games, allowing Arkansas to rush for 292 yards and Georgia to rush for 316. But they will face a passing blizzard with the Bulldogs operating Leach’s familiar spread offense.

“He’s committed to throwing the football and does it at a really high level,” Drinkwitz said. “They supplement their run scheme with tunnel screens, which helps them slow down the pass rush.”

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers has completed 71.1 percent of his passes this season for 1,533 yards and seven touchdowns. Jaden Walley emerged as his top receiving target with 43 catches for 562 yards, a school record for freshmen.

“Their progression throughout the year, you can tell they are getting more comfortable in their scheme,” Drinkwitz said of the Bulldogs. “They found their quarterback and he’s doing an excellent job for them. He knows exactly where the ball is supposed to go. They have some dynamic wide receivers. You can just tell that offensively they are hitting their stride.”

The Tigers try to balance the power running of Larry Rountree III (851 yards, 12 touchdowns this season) with some pro-style passing with Connor Bazelak (2,141 yards and five touchdowns).

“They’re aggressive both sides of the ball,” Leach said. “They have an aggressive run game on offense. Defense, they put a heavy front up there and like to play man coverage and try to be physical about it. It’s not a situation where they’re trying to fool you. They’re pretty aggressive and right out there in your face.”

Mississippi State defensive end Marquiss Spencer will miss the game after suffering a scary head or neck injury against Auburn. He regained body movement at the hospital, but he remained under observation.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back James Cook (4) runs for a touchdown against Missouri Tigers safety Tyree Gillespie (9) during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Daniels paces No. 9 Georgia in rout of No. 25 Missouri

JT Daniels passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns as No. 9 Georgia rolled to a 49-14 victory over No. 25 Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

George Pickens caught five passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs (7-2) won their third consecutive game.

Zamir White rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown, Daijun Edwards ran for 103 yards and a score and James Cook had both a receiving and rushing touchdown.

Connor Bazelak passed for 139 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Tigers (5-4).

The Bulldogs scored 35 unanswered points after the Tigers tied the game at 14 late in the first half. Overall, Georgia held a pronounced advantage in total yards (615-200) and first downs (28-11).

Eric Stokes intercepted Bazelak’s second pass of the game and returned it 27 yards to the Missouri 23. The Bulldogs ran six consecutive rushing plays and Kenny McIntosh scored from 2 yards out as Georgia moved ahead 7-0.

The Bulldogs drove 89 yards on their second possession to make it 14-0. Cook capped the drive with a 37-yard touchdown catch.

The Tigers countered with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that cut Georgia’s lead in half. The big play was a 29-yard pass from receiver Keke Chism to Messiah Swinson — after Chism caught a lateral pass from Bazelak.

Bazelak scored on a 2-yard run on the next play.

Georgia dodged danger with 2:50 left in the half. Kearis Jackson muffed a punt, but the Bulldogs recovered the ball on their 18-yard line.

But their next special teams mishap cost them. Jason Carmada’s punt was blocked by Mason Pack and advanced to the Georgia 1-yard line by Will Norris.

Larry Rountree III ran the ball in from there as Missouri tied the game at 14 with 1:20 left in the half.

The Bulldogs responded with a rapid-fire 75-yard drive to take a 21-14 lead into the half. Pickens made a spectacular 36-yard touchdown catch with 37 seconds left in the second quarter.

Georgia opened the second half with another 75-yard scoring drive. Daniels capped it with another touchdown pass to Pickens, this time for 31 yards, as the Bulldogs expanded their lead to 28-14.

White’s 43-yard touchdown run vaulted the Bulldogs to a 35-14 lead and the rout was on. Georgia made it 42-14 with Cook’s 9-yard TD run, then Edwards scored on a 6-yard run as the Bulldogs pushed their lead to 49-14.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak (8) drops back to pass as Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Julius Coates (13) defends during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Mevis’ FG lifts Missouri past Arkansas

The Missouri Tigers continued to put distance between themselves and their 0-2 start to the 2020 football season on Saturday as they won their third straight and fifth out of the last six by beating Arkansas 50-48 at Faurot Field in Columbia.

The Tigers (5-3) claimed the Battle Line Trophy in a game that was a cross-divisional matchup in the SEC and moved from Nov. 28 to Saturday because of COVID-19 situations.

Mizzou won the game with a 32-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis as time expired.

The SEC West’s Razorbacks, meanwhile, are heading the other way as the loss was their third straight and dropped them to 3-6 on the season. The loss was a killer as Arkansas had grabbed a 48-47 lead on a two-point conversion with 43 seconds to go.

The Tigers were led by their 1-2 offensive punch of quarterback Connor Bazelak and running back Larry Rountree III.

Bazelak, who is now 6-1 as a starter, passed for 380 yards. He was 32 of 49. Keke Chism had six of those catches for 113 yards.

Rountree carried the ball 27 times for 185 yards.

The Mizzou defense was not nearly as tough as it was a week ago in the 41-0 rout of Vanderbilt but played well enough on Saturday when it mattered — in the final quarter when it made enough stops to enable the Tigers to come back from a 40-33 deficit with just under 10 minutes to go.

Arkansas got bad news before the game when it was announced that starting quarterback Feleipe Franks would not play because of a rib injury. Franks was coming off a career-high 339 yards against LSU. He had passed for 200 yards or more in every game this season.

Getting the start and playing the whole game in Franks’ place was KJ Jefferson.

Jefferson, getting his second start, played well. Almost well enough to get his team a victory. He completed 18 of 33 attempts for 274 yards and three TDs.

Treylon Burks caught 10 balls for 206 yards for Arkansas.

Trelon Smith had a big game, rushing for 172 yards on 26 carries.

The two teams combined for over 1,200 total yards.

Next Saturday, the Tigers play a home game against the Georgia Bulldogs, who entered the weekend ranked No. 8. Arkansas will host top-ranked and undefeated Alabama. Both games were rescheduled because of COVID-19 situations.

Dec. 12 was originally supposed to serve as an open date in the SEC schedule.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz looks on from the sidelines during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri looking for another statement as it welcomes Arkansas

Never mind that the Missouri Tigers tossed a dominating shutout at SEC rival Vanderbilt last time out.

Their victory might be best remembered by the college world as the answer to a trivia question because it featured the first on-field performance by a woman in a Power Five football game.

This weekend, the Tigers (4-3) have a chance to make a statement of their own as a victory against Arkansas (3-5) will give MU a third straight win and a fifth in its last six games.

“We’ve got a little bit of momentum so I anticipate a great football game,” first year Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who coached Appalachian State to a 12-1 record a year ago, said.

Lost in the national frenzy created when Vanderbilt put female soccer goalie Sarah Fuller into the game to kick off in the second half, was a complete performance by MU in the 41-0 win at Faurot Field in Columbia.

Led by freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak and running back Larry Rountree III, Missouri piled up 380 yards passing and 223 yards rushing. The Tigers were penalized just once.

Drinkwitz called the Arkansas matchup “a litmus test” for his team and talked about the “need to put a great product on the field that our fans can be proud of” on Saturday.

The kind of product his team put up last week.

“They’re very big, very physical on the offensive line,” Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman, in his first year with Arkansas, said. “They like to run the ball. Coach Drinkwitz does a great job of keeping you off balance. Bazalak is getting better each week. Rountree is a very, very solid, tough, physical runner.”

The zero in the points-against column and the total yardage allowed number of 185 speaks for itself even if it was against a winless Vandy team.

“Defensively they run to the football,” Pittman said.

Arkansas will arrive in Columbia a week after an oh-so-close loss to defending national champion LSU.

The Razorbacks outplayed the Tigers for most of the game and led late in the fourth quarter. But a 13-yard touchdown pass with 3:59 to play gave LSU a 27-24 lead. Arkansas had a shot to push the game into overtime but its field-goal attempt from 44 yards out was blocked with 1:30 remaining.

Senior quarterback Feleipe Franks posted his best numbers of the season — he went 17-of-26 for 339 yards, a touchdown and one interception.

“They’ve been in every single game,” Drinkwitz said of the Razorbacks. “Their grad-transfer quarterback, Feleipe Franks, is playing as well as any quarterback in the league, maybe except for the young man at Florida and the young man at Alabama.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played on Nov. 28 but was moved back because of COVID-19 problems at Arkansas. Both coaches are hoping to be near full-strength on Saturday, but pressed on that, Drinkwitz knocked on his wooden podium.

–Field Level Media