COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team's home opener against McNeese State was over just minutes after it started.
Missouri scored on its first four possessions and held McNeese State scoreless for the contest's first 48 minutes and 24 seconds.
The Tigers were led by a nearly flawless quarterbacking performance by Blaine Gabbert, who completed his first 15 passes, and freshman tailback Henry Josey.
Josey nearly matched Gabbert's efficiency, scoring three times on his first four carries, sending the Tigers to a 33-0 halftime lead and a 50-6 win.
On the day that highly-ranked Virginia Tech lost to Football Championship Subdivision opponent James Madison, the Missouri offense had no problems scoring six touchdowns against its FCS foes. The Tigers outgained McNeese State 328 yards to 57 in the first half and 438 yards to 245 overall.
"If you were watching TV today ... I'm scared to death every day. I've been a coach for 34 years, and to me we are playing the national championship every night," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said.
McNeese State barely touched Josey on his touchdown runs of 6, 6 and 62 yards.
Josey's three-touchdown performance matched a Missouri true freshman record set by quarterback Corby Jones, who had three touchdowns against Iowa State in 1995.
Josey ended the game with seven carries for 112 yards and the three touchdowns. He was used sparingly after scoring his third touchdown in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Missouri's first-string defense continued to manhandle the Cowboys, intercepting three passes and recovering two fumbles in the game. All five of McNeese's forced turnovers resulted in Missouri offensive scoring drives.
A second-quarter interception by Kevin Rutland set up an 8-yard De'Vion Moore rushing touchdown after Josey's big touchdown run. One minute and 29 seconds later Michael Sam forced a fumble in the McNeese State end zone. Cowboys quarterback Jacob Bower fell on the fumble for a Missouri safety, pushing the score to 30-0.
Sam's forced safety came with Missouri lining up four defensive ends on the defensive line, a formation they used in the second half in Week One against Illinois.
"That was my first play in on defense," Sam said. "Last game I didn't get (the quarterback), so I was like, 'I got to get him this time.'"
Grant Ressel capped the first half with a 27-yard field goal.
Defense set up Missouri's first three scoring drives in the second half. A blocked punt by Sam led to a Ressel 32-yard field goal.
Sam said that he saw the blocked punt coming.
"I told coach that I was going to get a blocked punt this week. I told him all week," Sam said.
The predicted blocked punt was followed by a McNeese State fumble on its second possession of the second half. That turnover led to a rainmaking 24-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Jerrell Jackson.
Freshman quarterback James Franklin replaced Gabbert to start Missouri's third possession in the third quarter.
Franklin's first drive was set up by another McNeese State fumble, forced by defensive end Brad Madison and recovered by linebacker Zavier Gooden. It resulted Franklin's first career touchdown, an 8-yard rush.
Gabbert finished the game 26-for-31, throwing for 220 yards and one touchdown. Franklin completed six of his eight passes for a total of 25 yards and had 28 yards rushing.
For the second time in as many weeks, wide receiver T.J. Moe led the Tigers in receptions, followed by tight end Michael Egnew. Moe caught 10 passes Saturday, Egnew six.
McNeese State and third-string quarterback Cody Stroud finally broke through on Missouri's second-string defense with a 15-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. With the score 50-6, the extra-point kick jarred off the left upright.
Missouri ran the ball nearly exclusively with Franklin as quarterback. Pinkel and offensive coordinator Dave Yost agreed to no longer try to score points on the defeated Cowboys. After Franklin's rushing touchdown, the Tigers went scoreless for the final 15:27 of the game.
McNeese recovered a Missouri fumble late in the fourth quarter and drove into field-goal range as the game clock dwindled to its final seconds. With three seconds remaining, McNeese went for a touchdown on fourth-and-7 from Missouri's 27-yard line. A Brendan Donaldson sack for a loss of 9 yards ended the game in a fashion symbolic of Missouri's victory.