When we last saw the No. 20 ranked Missouri Tigers, they were in relatively unfamiliar territory for most Southeastern Conference teams. Mizzou took on the Toledo Rockets of the Mid-American Conference last week, and looked pretty impressive in the Glass Bowl last week, winning by the tally of 49-24.
Next up on the slate for them in their nonconference schedule was a matchup with the UCF Knights, a team that despite losing its starting quarterback and running back to the National Football League still had relatively high expectations coming into the year.
As it would turn out, Columbia, Missouri was the last place UCF wanted to be.
Despite trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, 31 unanswered points later Mizzou would find themselves moving to 3-0 on the season as the Tigers pasted the Knights 38-10.
The UCF defense looked pretty overmatched on a gorgeous mid-September afternoon, as Missouri hit them where it hurts the most: 3rd down efficiency, total yards, and yards per carry. They would go 10-14 on 3rd down, pile up 322 yards, and rush for 5.1 yards every time a Tiger tailback touched the ball. Needless to say, these tallies were significantly higher than their opposition's, though UCF dominated in time of possession.
Another significant factor? Turnovers. Mizzou continued their turnover streak, which is reaching the point of insanity if it has not already brushed past through that threshold yet. An interception by sophomore defensive lineman Josh Augusta pushes the Tigers' turnover streak to 47 games in a row.
Mizzou won the turnover battle 4-1, and just in case you're wondering: the last time that Missouri has not forced a turnover? October 30, 2010, when Mizzou was curb stomped by the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and when this writer was just two months into his freshman year.
It was a banner second half at the Tigers' house. Sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk tossed two touchdown passes to senior wide receiver Bud Sasser, adding to this dynamic duo's already crisp connection. This was also after Mauk threw two first half touchdowns to fellow senior wide receiver Jimmie Hunt. That makes it four touchdowns apiece for Sasser and Hunt, who now has back-to-back two touchdown performances.
Mauk's four touchdowns on the day gives him 12 on the season, and nine in his last two games. It's certainly early, but Chase Daniel's 39 touchdown season in 2008 may soon feel something breathing down its neck.
The much maligned Missouri defense entered Saturday with something to prove after two less than stellar performances against inferior competition. The most lambasted defensive unit was the run defense, and for good reason when you consider the last few times that the Tigers have taken the field.
It appeared that they had taken those lessons to heart, as Mizzou held the Knights to just 80 yards on the ground. Perhaps even more of a notable statistic is UCF's yards per carry: just 2.1 on 39 carries, with the longest run of the day being a 20-yard scamper by sophomore quarterback Justin Holman.
Defensive end Shane Ray made life miserable for Holman as he seemed to be in the backfield for most of the afternoon. Josh Augusta and senior safety Braylon Webb came away with interceptions of their own, and senior defensive back Duron Singleton picked up a fumble in the waning moments of the game, returning it 60 yards for a touchdown.
Missouri completes their nonconference slate next week when they toe to toe with the Indiana Hoosiers in Columbia at 4 p.m. ET.