The Memphis Tigers suffered their first loss of the season in St. Louis against the Missouri Tigers. Missouri improves to 4-0 while Memphis falls to 3-1 on the year.
Both fanbases came into the contest with intensity following the release of several interesting social media posts from both teams Friday afternoon. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Memphis, but Missouri threatened to buy its way out of the contract, and the two sides settled on a neutral site tilt in St. Louis.
Missouri opened the game with a surprise onside kick that was unsuccessful, but the Memphis offense sputtered on its first possession, quickly giving Missouri the ball.
Missouri star quarterback Brady Cook, who was questionable all week with injury concerns, threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Johnson to open the scoring. Memphis would respond with a nice scoring drive as third-string kicker Tanner Gillis sank a 43-yard field goal to put them on the board.
Memphis capitalized as the defense forced a Cody Schrader fumble on Missouri’s next possession. The offense would score their first touchdown of the game on a 4th and 1 completion from Seth Henigan to Joe Scates. Memphis led at the end of the first quarter 10-7.
Missouri star receiver Luther Burden III made his presence felt in the second quarter as Mizzou dominated. Missouri outgained Memphis 163 to 24 in yardage in the quarter, as Mizzou went into halftime with a 17-10 lead.
Missouri got the ball to start the 2nd half, but the Memphis defense forced a punt on the opening drive. From there, the Memphis offense was unable to score the equalizing touchdown.
Missouri’s dynamic duo of Burden III and Cook moved the ball quickly down the field and receiver Theo Wease scored the first touchdown of the second half, giving Missouri a 24-10 advantage.
On the next drive, Seth Henigan threw his first of two interceptions in the game, and things began to look bleak for the Tigers in gray and blue.
The Memphis defense managed to turn Missouri over on downs on the subsequent drive, keeping them in striking distance. The Memphis offense took advantage as Blake Watson scored on a 13-yard catch and run to cut the Mizzou lead to 7 heading into the 4th quarter.
Both teams traded field goals in the early stages of the quarter. However, a Cody Schrader touchdown run with 2:46 to go gave Missouri a 34-20 lead.
Memphis marched down the field as Seth Henigan delivered a strike to Koby Drake to cut the lead to 7 once again. Memphis failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, and Missouri ran the clock out to ice the game.
Missouri quarterback Brady Cook finished 18-25 with 341 yards and 2 touchdowns and his star counterpart Luther Burden III added in 10 catches for 177 yards.
For Memphis, Seth Henigan went 31-47 with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Roc Taylor continued to solidify himself as the top target with 7 catches for 143 yards.
The Tigers held their own against an undefeated SEC foe in a not-so-neutral environment. Self-inflicted wounds cost Memphis as they played from behind for most of the game and were never able to get back on top.
Memphis will need to shake off this game quickly, as the Tigers return home to face two of the toughest teams on their schedule consecutively in Boise State and Tulane.
Even with the loss to Missouri, winning these next two games will likely put Memphis in a great position to push for a conference championship and a berth to a New Year's Six bowl. All of Memphis’s goals for this season are still very much alive.