COLUMBIA, Mo. • On Tuesdays during the football season we’ll take a closer look at Missouri’s next matchup by digging into the numbers. This week is a little different with an FCS team coming to town, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, so we’ll get into a routine next week when the Tigers prepare for Toledo.
Instead, let’s look at Mizzou’s recent history in their annual blood donor games against the FCS.
In his 14 seasons at Mizzou, this will be Gary Pinkel’s 11th game against an FCS school. Average score of those previous 10 games: Missouri 50.5 - FCS opponent 7.5.
Here’s how those last five games unfolded in terms of Mizzou total yards and opponent total yards.
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Missouri 58, Murray State 14
MU: 87 plays - 694 yards
Missouri 62, Southeastern Louisiana 10
Missouri 69, Western Illinois 0
Missouri 50, McNeese State 6
Missouri 52, Furman 12
In those five games, Missouri averaged 287.2 rushing yards … 283.3 passing yards … 7.1 yards per carry … and 8.4 passing yards per attempt.
The FCS opponents averaged 72.2 rushing yards … 168.8 passing yards … 2.1 yards per carry … and 5.3 passing yards per attempt.
Overall, Missouri out gained those five FCS opponents by an average of 570.6 yards per game to 241.4 yards per game. That’s 7.7 yards per play for MU — and 3.7 yards per game for the FCS opponents.
Also, Missouri was plus-10 in turnover margin in those five games, winning the turnover battle in all but one. Coincidentally, in the most lopsided game of the five, Western Illinois turned the ball over just once to Mizzou’s two turnovers in 2011.
Now, let’s look at South Dakota State’s last five games against FBS opponents. The Jackrabbits are 1-29 all-time against teams currently in the power five conferences, with the lone win coming in 1935 against Wisconsin. SDSU has a history of playing FBS teams competitively, including a pair of close calls in the last five years:
Nebraska 59, SDSU 20
Kansas 31, SDSU 17
Illinois 56, SDSU 3
Nebraska 17, SDSU 3
Minnesota 16, SDSU 13
In those five games, SDSU averaged 128.6 rushing yards per game … 158.8 passing yards … 4.0 yards per carry … and 5.0 yards per pass attempt.
The five FBS opponents averaged 260.8 rushing yards per game … 173.6 passing yards … 5.3 yards per carry … and 7.4 yards per attempt.
A few notes on those five games for SDSU:
* The Jackrabbits led Nebraska 17-14 early in the second quarter last year before the Huskers unloaded some offense. Zach Zenner, the FCS All-American running back, ran all over the Huskers in that game, gaining 202 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. (I’ll write more about Zenner later this week. Mizzou cannot take the senior lightly.) He’s logged two 2,000 yard seasons already in his prolific career. In the 2012 loss to Kansas — the Jayhawks’ only win that season — Zenner ripped off a 99-yard touchdown run and finished with 183 yards on 22 carries. In his last two games against power five conference teams— I know, I know ... insert your “Kansas being a power five team” punchline here — Zenner has 385 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. That’s 8.8 yards per carry.
* The 2011 game at Illinois was a bloodbath. The Illini out rushed SDSU 364-25 — and have hit the 300-yard rushing mark just once since then. Four Illinois players ran for touchdowns in that game. Three averaged at least 9.0 yards per carry. “When they ran the option,” SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier told reporters after the game, “I mean holy nutmeg. That’s where you start your defense, (and) they averaged 7,8,9,10 yards a carry.”
* A year later, the Jackrabbits kept it close at Nebraska and held the Huskers to 205 rushing yards — the same Nebraska team that four weeks later steamrolled Mizzou for 317 rushing yards, including 307 by Roy Helu Jr. SDSU held Helu to a modest 59 yards on 19 carries.
* In a late November 2009 matchup at Minnesota, SDSU nearly pulled off its first win in seven tries against the Gophers. The Jackrabbits led 10-6 midway through the third quarter but couldn’t finish off the Big Ten team despite outgaining Minnesota in yards per play, 3.5 to 3.3.