The BYU Cougars (7-2) will travel to the midwest as they take on the struggling Missouri Tigers (4-5, 1-5) in a non-conference matchup Saturday night. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in their history.
BYU has won five straight games after knocking off San Jose State 17-16 on the road last Friday night. Missouri has lost four straight and five of six as they were clobbered 31-13 at home by Mississippi State last Saturday. The game kicks off from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri at 7:30 pm ET and will be televised on the SEC Network. BYU is currently listed as a 6 point favorite but the over/under for this contest has not been set at this time.
BYU had a tougher than anticipated battle with San Jose State but came up with a key stop on a two point conversion with 45 seconds to play to preserve the victory. The Cougars outgained the Tigers 329-269 in the contest, which saw both teams commit one turnover. BYU was edged 18-17 in the first down battle and allowed San Jose State to hold the ball for 33:01 while the Cougars had possession for 26:59 in the contest. The Cougars allowed an interception return for a score on their lone giveaway to give San Jose State one of their two touchdowns.
The Cougars are a solid passing oriented offense as they are 22nd in the nation in passing (294.3 yards) as opposed to 97th in the nation in rushing offense with 146.6 yards per contest. BYU scores 33.4 points per game and they are tied for 38th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 22.7 points a contest. Tanner Mangum has been solid as a freshman; he’s completed 179 of 282 passes for 2,198 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He replaced Taysom Hill (21 of 34, 268 yards, TD, INT, nine carries, 72 yards, 2 TD), who was lost for the season with a Lisfranc fracture. Should Mangum go down, Beau Hoge (9 of 16, 126 yards, TD, INT) or possibly Koy Detmer Jr. (3 of 3, 57 yards) would be in line for some game action. Algernon Brown is the team’s leading rusher with 88 carries for 490 yards and eight touchdowns; Adam Hine (57 carries, 321 yards, 2 TD) and Frances Bernard (35 carries, 248 yards, 3 TD) are capable secondary backs but the Cougars would have loved to have Jamal Williams, who is missing the year due to personal issues, as their starter. Mitch Matthews (40 receptions, 499 yards, 9 TD) is the team’s leading receiver; Devon Blackmon (38 catches, 502 yards), Mitchell Juergens (29 grabs, 397 yards, 2 TD), Nick Kurtz (27 receptions, 401 yards, 2 TD) and Terenn Houk (26 catches, 378 yards, TD) are all excellent targets in the passing game as well. Trevor Samson has hit all 36 extra points and 11 of 13 field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards.
Missouri was within 14-13 at the half against Mississippi State but didn’t score again; a 17 point third quarter by the Bulldogs put things away. The Tigers were outgained 430-322 and gave up 23 first downs to the 16 they picked up. Both teams turned the ball over twice in the contest while Missouri held a slim 30:22 to 29:38 margin in the time of possession battle. While Missouri’s turnovers cost them only three points, they gave up a 69 yard kick return in the second quarter that gave Mississippi State the ball on the Tigers 29 yard line to set up a touchdown.
The Tigers are 112th in the nation in passing offense (169.3 yards per game) and 120th in rushing with an average of 112.1 yards per contest. Missouri is scoring only 14.7 points a game which is last in the FBS but they are tied for 4th in scoring defense as they allow 14.6 points per contest. Mauk has hit 51.8 percent of his throws for 654 yards with six touchdowns and four picks while adding 135 yards and a score on the ground. Drew Lock is hitting 49.4 percent of his throws (88 of 178) for 655 yards with three touchdowns and five picks. Ish Witter leads the Tigers with 101 carries for 423 yards and a score as he’s filling in for the injured Russell Hansbrough, who has 68 carries for 264 yards. Nate Brown is second on the Tigers with 20 receptions for 251 yards and four scores while J’Mon Moore has a team high 23 grabs for 252 yards and two touchdowns; Sean Culkin chips in 15 catches for 123 yards and a score while Witter has 12 receptions out of the backfield. Andrew Baggett has hit all 13 extra point attempts and 13 of 17 field goals this season.
BYU is 4-0 ATS in their last four after an ATS loss, 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight after scoring less than 20 points, 5-1 ATS in their last six on grass and 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 against teams with a losing record. Missouri is 2-7 ATS in their last nine overall, 1-4 ATS in their last five against teams with a winning record and 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
Missouri’s inability to put points on the board cost them once again as the issues around the team continue to swirl. Maty Mauk has been suspended for the rest of the year, black players threatened to not play until former president Tim Wolfe was ousted and Gary Pinkel has announced his retirement at the end of the season. Playing a home game on a neutral site against a BYU team that is very talented isn’t going to be a good matchup for a team that is fragile. The Cougars should win this one by double figures.