Missouri takes care of business, shuts out Vanderbilt in 41-0 win
After last season’s loss to Vanderbilt, the Tigers exacted its revenge in decisive fashion.
Nov. 28, 2020
By the time the final whistle sounded, the Missouri Tigers couldn’t vacate Nashville quick enough.
Just a week after an impressive homecoming win against Ole Miss that boosted the Tigers to No. 22 in the AP rankings, they fell flat on their face against Vanderbilt, giving the Commodores their first and only SEC win of the season.
One year later, the Tigers exacted their long-awaited revenge under first-year head coach Eli Drinkwitz. Missouri out-gained Vanderbilt 603 yards to 196 yards and thoroughly outplayed the winless Commodores in a 41-0 shutout win at Faurot Field Saturday afternoon.
“When the headline says ‘Knocked out in Nashville,’ that’s something you want to remember and use as something to increase your focus,” Drinkwitz said. “I told them it’s not about what happened, it’s about what you are going to do about it.”
For the first time in weeks, Missouri had its full complement of players available on both the offensive and defensive line.
Right tackle Larry Borom and left guard Xavier Delgado’s return to the trenches helped solidify a line that played below full strength for much of the past month. This week, Missouri had no problem moving defenders off the ball and senior running back Larry Rountree III had a field day.
Rountree III found pay dirt for the fourth game in a row and finished with 160 yards and three touchdowns, his most complete performance since rushing for 126 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky over a month ago.
“[The offensive line] played their butts off today,” Rountree III said, quick to deflect praise to his blockers. “Every play that I scored on; it was the same play, but the blocking from the O-line was so good that I was able to make one guy miss, and it was a touchdown.”
Defensive linemen Trajan Jeffcoat and Markell Utsey suited up after missing Missouri’s game against South Carolina, and Jeffcoat came up with a strip sack. But the most anticipated return was that of Kobie Whiteside, who plugged up gaps in the middle and made two solo tackles.
“How is Kobie Whiteside?” Drinkwitz asked during last Tuesday's media availability. “He’s probably tired of me asking how he is.”
Whiteside played a significant role in a run defense that held Vanderbilt standout running back Keyon Henry-Brooks –– who put up 115 and 121 total yards respectively in his last two games –– to just 64 yards.
“I commended those guys for fighting to get back for their teammates,” Drinkwitz said. “We’re down guys, and when you’re not playing, it puts stress on everybody because everybody is having to do more. To get [them] back in a trench-driven league: That’s four more players that can help us spread the load, and I think that’s what happened today.”
At the beginning of the week, Drinkwitz reminded his team about last season’s loss to the Commodores. He put newspaper headlines from that humbling loss in every player’s locker, a not-so-subtle reminder about what can happen when taking a team for granted.
“[The newspaper headline] is something you see everyday, and I left mine in there and didn’t move it,” Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton said. “It’s a simple reminder every day that they beat us. We were a ranked opponent, we were on a five-game winning streak and we had a skid after that.”
The message came in loud and clear to Missouri’s roster. In addition to Rountree III, running back Tyler Badie caught seven balls for 102 yards and had a rushing touchdown. Quarterback Connor Bazelak completed 81% of his passes for 318 yards.
And, as is customary, Bolton stood out on the Tigers’ defensive unit once again.
The linebacker finished the afternoon with nine solo tackles, including two tackles-for-loss, and had his fingerprints on seemingly every Missouri defensive play. He nearly intercepted Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals, too, but he couldn’t quite haul the ball in.
“You’ve got Nick Bolton anchoring the [defense] and hammering out ten tackles a game like it’s nothing,” Drinkwitz said after taking a look at the box score.
Those at Faurot Field witnessed history as Vanderbilt women’s soccer goalkeeper Sarah Fuller became the first woman to log a snap in Power Five college football. While Vanderbilt never got into field goal range to allow her an attempt to score, she did kick the ball off to begin the second half.
“People only look at [football] as a male sport,” Rountree III said. “But [Fuller] came and she played. I give her all the respect because it takes a lot to come out there and play against grown men. It was a great moment, and I really respect her a lot for that.”
The Tigers now look to extend their winning streak to a season-long three games when Missouri hosts Arkansas next weekend.
But for now, every single player that made the trip to Nashville last season will enjoy their revenge and a year where they will not even have to think about losing to Vanderbilt.
“This team, we had a chip on our shoulder from the beginning,” Badie said. “Just knowing what [Vanderbilt] did last time to us, knocking us off. We came in with that mentality that we’re not going to give up, we’re not going to lay down. We’re going to play all four quarters.”
Edited by Danny Ryerson | email@example.com