COLUMBIA, Mo. • The last two times Indiana visited Faurot Field, Missouri and the Hoosiers settled for ties, before college football instituted overtime periods.
Oh what the Tigers would give for a tie today.
A two-touchdown favorite against a defensively challenged team from the nation’s punchline conference, No. 18 Mizzou needed a fourth-quarter rally to complete nonconference play unscathed Saturday night.
But the Tigers left Indiana too much time.
The Hoosiers, a Big Ten team that hasn't had a winning season in seven years, led a 75-yard touchdown drive in the game’s final two minutes to escape Memorial Stadium with a 31-27 upset, won on D’Angelo Roberts’ 3-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left.
Not since 1979 had a nationally ranked Missouri team lost at home to an unranked team. This wasn't just an unranked team. The Hoosiers haven’t finished better than .500 in Big Ten play since 1993 and hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent since 2006. For years the Hoosiers have played defense as if only nine players were on the field, including last week’s loss at Bowling Green.
But the latest attempt at what Missouri coach Gary Pinkel calls “intelligent scheduling” — setting up a low-risk, low-reward beatable lineup of foes before real tests arrive in conference play — combusted in the Tigers’ face.
“We haven’t lost around here for a long time, so our guys are suffering right now,” Pinkel said. “That’s OK. This isn’t the fun part of this business.”
The horizon doesn’t look very fun either: The Tigers (3-1) begin their SEC gauntlet Saturday at No. 14 South Carolina, followed by a visit from No. 13 Georgia.
“We’ve got to stick together and get better,” linebacker Michael Scherer said. “That’s all we can do.”
In front of the season’s biggest home crowd, 66,775, Andrew Baggett’s 40-yard field goal with 2:20 left put Missouri ahead 27-24, leaving the defense to clinch the victory with one last stop.
Playing without its senior leader and scorched at times by Indiana’s hurry-up attack, Missouri’s defense buckled down in the second half, holding the Hoosiers scoreless on five of its first six possessions. Then came the collapse.
Taking over at their 25, Indiana moved the chains on fourth and 6 when Missouri cornerback John Gibson was flagged for pass interference on a pas intended Dominique Booth, giving the Hoosiers new life at its 41.
“We’re still in the driver’s seat in that position,” Scherer said. “We’re up three. They got a first down, but they’re still on the minus side of the field.”
Not for long. IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld dumped a screen pass to running back Tevin Coleman, who zipped through an alley on the IU sideline, good for a 44-yard gain. A face mask penalty on Missouri safety Braylon Webb — the Tigers’ 10th penalty of the day — set up first and goal from the 7.
Scherer, one of just two Mizzou defensive players who showed up for postgame interviews, said MU was in zone coverage on the short side of the field where Coleman found his crease.
“He caught the ball, found a hole and took off,” defensive end Shane Ray said. “That’s the simplest way I could put it.”
After a 4-yard running play, Missouri failed to call a quick timeout and instead let the clock tick down to 26 seconds. Pinkel blamed himself for the mistakes.
A play later, D’Angelo Roberts punched in the 3-yard go-ahead touchdown, with just 22 seconds left.
Missouri crossed midfield on its final possession and earned a final untimed down thanks to an Indiana penalty. But all Maty Mauk could manage was a 16-yard pass to Marcus Murphy in the middle of the field. No Hail Mary. No trick play. No miracle comeback.
“We just wanted to set up a quick play down the middle of the field,” Murphy said. “They loaded the end zone. We just wanted to get under and make a guy miss and make the best play we can make.”
Despite outgaining the Hoosiers in yardage 498-493, Missouri’s offense spent too much time moving backward against a defense still wearing Bowling Green’s treadmarks from the week before. Mizzou’s issues started along an offensive line that lost left guard Anthony Gatti to a knee injury on the third possession. Three linemen were flagged for false starts. Mauk needed a footstool to keep up with center Evan Boehm’s high shotgun snaps. Receivers dropped what would have been three third-down conversions. The Hoosiers made 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Russell Hansbrough had a 68-yard touchdown run, but otherwise, the tailbacks ran 20 times for just 62 yards.
Overall, Missouri drew 10 penalties for 75 yards, the team’s most since the 2012 season finale loss at Texas A&M.
“There’s no real right answer for this,” right tackle Mitch Morse said, “but I guess it would be lack of focus.”
“We stabbed ourselves in the foot a lot the entire first half and coming out in the second half,” said receiver Bud Sasser, who caught 11 passes for 142 yards. “It’s hard to win when you do that.”
After a nightmare third quarter that saw Missouri fall behind by a touchdown, Mauk guided the Tigers to the game-tying score, a 1-yard play-action toss to tight end Sean Culkin 1:40 into the fourth quarter, good for a 24-24 tie. Mauk opened the third quarter throwing an interception on Mizzou’s first snap, a badly thrown ball for Murphy picked off by Indiana safety Mark Murphy. It only got worse from there. The Tigers punted on their next three series, netting only 43 yards on 22 plays.
Even worse, Indiana’s offense came alive after Mizzou’s third punt of the quarter, needing only two plays to cover 82 yards on the go-ahead touchdown drive. First, a Coleman 49-yard run through the front teeth of the Mizzou defense. Then a 33-yard TD strike from Sudfeld to J-Shun Harris.
And just like that, the Hoosiers led 24-17 with less than a minute to play in the quarter.
Playing without defensive end, co-captain and emotional leader Markus Golden, who strained his left hamstring in practice last week, Missouri’s defense rarely created pressure in the backfield, produced just two sacks and for the first time since a 2010 loss at Nebraska didn’t force a turnover, ending the nation’s longest streak of 47 games with a takeaway.
And now, SEC play. Hello, Gamecocks.
“This is a moment where we can find the identity of our team,” Morse said, “come out and have a great week of practice and give South Carolina everything they want.”