COLUMBIA — Missouri held an 11-point lead Saturday. Blaine Gabbert had 322 yards passing and two touchdowns.
That’s before the Missouri offense’s weakness arrived: the second half.
Missouri scored five more points on a field goal and a safety. The Tigers lost 40-32 to Baylor at Memorial Stadium.
Second-half offense has been a problem for Missouri since the team began conference play against Nebraska on Oct. 8. The Tigers had scored six second-half points in four conference games before Saturday. They had not scored a second-half touchdown in conference play.
“If I had an answer to that, pal, I’d have fixed it a long time ago,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “I don’t know. You get to the second half, I’ve been doing this a long time, we’re in a rut.”
At halftime, Missouri led 27-16. Baylor scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half to cut its deficit to four points. That’s when Missouri’s offensive struggles began.
The Tigers had to punt on their first five drives of the second half. When Missouri began its sixth second-half drive, it was down 40-29 and there was 5:42 remaining in the game. The first major wave of the announced crowd of 65,298 fans had already left.
Missouri’s two points of the second half had been scored on a safety after punter Jake Harry pinned the ball within inches of the goal line.
That sixth drive brought Missouri its first offensive points of the half. Grant Ressel made a 46-yard field goal to cut Missouri’s deficit to 40-32 with 2:55 remaining.
Baylor could not convert a first down on the ensuing drive and was forced to punt, giving Missouri the ball with 1:48 remaining in the game. Gabbert completed a 36-yard pass to Danario Alexander to get Missouri into Baylor territory. A pass interference penalty on the next play took Missouri to Baylor’s 22-yard line. Once again, though, the Tigers failed to score a second-half touchdown. Gabbert threw incomplete passes on the first two plays of the next series. After a four-yard pass to Derrick Washington, Missouri was forced to attempt to convert a fourth-and-six. Baylor’s pressure forced Gabbert to run to his right and he threw an incompletion, giving Baylor the ball.
The crowd began to exit in much greater numbers. Baylor took a knee and ended the game.
In the first half, senior Danario Alexander had 11 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. In the second half, he caught the ball twice for 44 yards.
“We’re just not coming out and executing as an offense like we can,” Alexander said. “We came out in the first half, everything was going pretty good. We came out in the second half, we just couldn’t get it together.”
Baylor’s offense continued to function in the second half. Quarterback Nick Florence passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
“That’s definitely frustrating,” linebacker Andrew Gachkar said. “Especially when we harp on pass defense so much and staying on top of the ball. And obviously we gave that up a bunch of times too.”
Missouri is 1-4 in Big 12 play, tied for last in the Big 12 North. Saturday’s win was Baylor’s first of the conference season, meaning every Big 12 team has now won a conference game.