NORMAN, Okla. — The numbers didn’t fall into place for the Missouri football team on Saturday night against Oklahoma. The Tigers’ offense lined up five wide receivers and the Sooners defense blitzed six. There always seemed to be more defenders than the line could handle, and that, among other things, was a key factor in the 41-31 loss to the Sooners in Norman, Okla.
The Sooners’ defense came in allowing 66.5 rushing yards a game. And with leading rusher Tony Temple back in Columbia nursing an ankle injury, the Sooners’ front seven seized the opportunity to get in Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel’s face. The offensive line that dominated against Nebraska on Oct. 6 let up on Saturday and allowed five sacks. The Missouri offense that had averaged more than 40 points a game and had picked apart Nebraska was vulnerable.
“Yes, it was huge,” Daniel said. “(Temple) is our guy, and the catalyst for the offense, so it hurt being without him.”
The relentless Sooners pass rush led to some uncharacteristic mistakes from the Tigers offense. A team that averaged about six penalties a game committed three alone in the first quarter. The Oklahoma attack was nothing the offensive line wasn’t expecting. The Tigers said they lacked the intensity to stand up to the Sooners.
“We just weren’t as physical as we needed to be,” MU senior tackle Tyler Luellen said. “Focus had nothing to do with it. We just didn’t play as hard as we should have up there.”
But in the third quarter, the line played better, pushing the offense to rushing touchdowns from Jeremy Maclin and Jimmy Jackson.
“We tried to move around a little bit with such a talented defense and great speed,” MU coach Gary Pinkel said. “But we just couldn’t pin their ears back.”
The Sooners’ linebackers had backed off to assist in the short and intermediate passing game. After capitalizing on two turnovers by Daniel and jumping back out to a two-score lead, the Sooners’ front seven went back to the blitz packages they displayed in the first half.
A fourth-quarter drive that had the Tigers at midfield after a 34-yard catch and run by Danario Alexander quickly turned into a third-and-24 after consecutive sacks of six and nine yards.
GAME TIME: Missouri’s homecoming game against Texas Tech on Saturday will be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.