For a half, Missouri was able to overcome its own mistakes.
In the end, though, the Tigers committed one turnover too many and it cost them a fourth consecutive game, 35-24.
After Kansas State (4-5, 2-4 Big 12 Conference) took its first lead of the game with 9:39 left, Brad Smith threw his second interception and linebacker Brandon Archer returned it 25 yards to finish off the Tigers (4-5, 2-4).
“There was also a lot of mistakes out there and against a good football team that is hard to overcome,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “We had four turnovers and the first three we survived,” he said
“Obviously the last one, in the fourth quarter, was absolutely critical.” Pinkel said.
Pinkel said the Tigers were fortunate to have survived the first half miscues, because two gave the Wildcats field position within Missouri’s 23-yard line.
Both times, the Missouri defense made a stand to prevent the Wildcats from scoring, keeping Kansas State under wraps. The Wildcats gained only 129 yards in the half, 61 coming on one drive, and moved backwards after Tiger turnovers.
Following a fumble by tight end Victor Sesay that gave the Wildcats possession at Missouri’s 20, the Tigers defense and the boisterous Missouri crowd created problems for Kansas State’s offensive unit. Two noise-related penalties, a false start and a delay of game, and a stout defense moved the Wildcats back to the 30, where C.J. Mosley blocked Joe Rheem’s 47-yard field goal attempt.
The Tigers’ defense continued to lift the offense after another inept possession when Smith’s pass intended for tight end Martin Rucker was picked off. Cornerback Maurice Porter stepped in front of Rucker and returned the ball 10 yards to the 23.
Smith said bad decision-making did not cause the turnovers, rather the defensive players are doing their part to make plays.
“I think some of them, guys get hands up; guys do some things, they’re going to make plays too,” Smith said.
Allen Webb relieved starting quarterback Dylan Meier on the ensuing possession and his first play did not change the stagnant Wildcat offense. His option pitch to Darren Sproles hit fullback Victor Mann and Mosley recovered.
Missouri’s turnover problems arose early. The Tigers fumbled on their first possession, halting an impressive opening drive. After marching 52 yards in five plays, a Smith fumble gave Kansas State the ball at its 19 and kept the Tigers out of the end zone.
Smith faked a handoff to Marcus Woods, but was unable to pull the ball back. Woods ran into the ball causing it to pop loose and bounce nine yards away where Maurice Thurmond fell on it.
Pinkel, who described the Tigers’ miscues as Missouri beating Missouri,said it was easy to see why his underachieving team blew another double digit lead.
“There’s reasons why you win and lose football games,” Pinkel said. “It’s not real complicated.”
“My football team is doing things that you shouldn’t do,” he said.
The turnovers limited Missouri’s offense. The Tigers gained 477 yards, 308 in the first half, and made big plays consistently.
Running back Damien Nash, who scampered for 66 yards in the fourth quarter, said Missouri’s biggest plays were the ones that cost them a victory.
“We had a lot of opportunities to make big plays, but without question we also had a lot of turnovers,” Nash said.
“When you get those turnovers those count as those big plays and you can’t win with those turnovers,” he said.