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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri found the antidote.
After four consecutive losses to Tennessee, the last two by a combined score of 128-48, the Tigers recovered in dominant fashion, stifling the nation’s best run game as MU running back Cody Schrader logged a historic rushing performance.
No. 16 Mizzou (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) downed the No. 14 Volunteers (7-3, 3-3 SEC) 36-7 at home Saturday, jumping out to an early lead and enjoying a busy day from the SEC’s leading running back.
Schrader ran for 205 yards, added 116 receiving yards and scored one touchdown. With those 321 total yards, he’s just the second player in MU history to have more than 300 yards from scrimmage, per an athletic department statistician. The former Division II running back and Lutheran South graduate also became the first Mizzou player to have at least 90 yards of both rushing and receiving.
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Schrader started early, motioning out of the backfield and into a lengthy route, finding himself wide open down the field for a rolling Brady Cook to find for a 38-yard gain on the first play of the game.
The Missouri defense also played one of its best games of the season, holding Tennessee to 350 yards of total offense. Despite the presence of the Vols’ dynamic three-headed backfield, the visitors only managed 83 yards on the ground.
The last time MU beat a team ranked 14th or higher in the AP Poll was in 2018, when Mizzou defeated No. 13 Florida on the road.
Despite a strong start to the first drive from the Schrader catch, the Tigers’ momentum plummeted. On the edge of the Volunteers’ red zone, Cook tried to force the ball to star wide receiver Luther Burden III. The ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage, which allowed high safety Jaylen McCollough to jump the crossing route and return the interception into Mizzou territory.
The Tigers’ second drive was considerably lengthier than their first — and it ended with a field goal. The possession started with 10:11 to go in the first quarter and ended 21 plays later at the 14:16 mark of the second quarter. Schrader’s typical tough running brought MU close to the goal line, but an illegal formation penalty and third down sack relegated the 72-yard drive to a Harrison Mevis field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Tennessee’s first touchdown came on a 46-yard pass to wide receiver Dont’e Thornton, who managed to keep a hand under the ball while sliding to complete the catch, which gave the Vols a 7-3 lead. A holding penalty and open-field stop from Mizzou cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. had forced UT into a third and nine when quarterback Joe Milton III made the throw.
MU’s first play in response was another long completion to Schrader, who took a wheel route into the flat and 43 yards down the field. A 22-yard completion to Mekhi Miller brought the Tigers close to the end zone, where Schrader burst through a gap for a seven-yard to put Missouri ahead, 10-7.
With starting weak side linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper out of the game due to a second-quarter injury, backup Triston Newson combined with cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine for some defensive playmaking. They popped the ball out of UT running back Jaylen Wright’s hands for Chuck Hicks to fall on top of, giving the Tigers a final first-half possession from their own 18-yard line with 20 seconds on the clock.
Enter Schrader. He took a handoff intended to run the clock down to halftime for 35 yards, then wisely dropped to the turf on a later handoff so that MU could call timeout and give Mevis the chance to boot a 46-yard field goal through the uprights just before the break. The 20-second scoring drive gave Mizzou a 13-7 lead at the half.
The Volunteers found no offensive momentum in the locker room, letting the ball hit the ground on an option pitch before taking a tackle for a loss and going three and out.
Missouri, however, had plenty of firepower. A straight-line route left freshman speedster Marquis Johnson so open that he could’ve jogged straight into Mizzou Arena untouched. Cook underthrew him but a 48-yard catch sparked a scoring drive. Cook scored by faking a pitch and slipping up the middle for a three-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion try aimed at Miller fell incomplete, leaving the Tigers’ lead at 19-7.
A dropped would-be first down and near Daylan Carnell interception canned the Vols’ attempt at a response.
Mizzou’s grit showed on its next touchdown drive. Cook absorbed an illegal hit out of bounds, popping back up in the face of a Tennessee linebacker while drawing an extra 15 yards. Four handoffs and two passes to Schrader brought the Tigers within field goal range, where Mevis’ of the day extended the lead to 22-7.
With just under 12 minutes left in the game, Tennessee started to drive, but chaos was on the home team’s side. The outstretched elbow of Vols running back Dylan Sampson jarred loose the ball as Milton tried to throw. A video review determined that the play was a fumble, giving Missouri the ball at its own 34-yard line, up by two scores and able to drain the clock and seal a win.
Burden delivered, zipping into the end zone on a catch-and-run from 21 yards away to make the game 29-7.
And if that wasn’t enough, Carnell finally picked off one of Milton’s several vulnerable passes, jumping a route and carrying a head of steam into the end zone for a pick-six-shaped exclamation point. That put Missouri ahead 36-7.
Tennessee missed a meaningless field goal — after MU coach Eli Drinkwitz iced the kicker — late in the fourth quarter.
Mizzou hosts Florida (5-4, 3-3 SEC) at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18.