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November 21, 2013

The Breakdown: Missouri answers

No. 8- Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC) hasn't faced a top-five SEC offense since Oct. 12 against Georgia. After back-to-back games against two of the worst offenses (in terms of yards) in the conference, the Tigers wrap their regular season with consecutive games against the third and first-ranked total offenses in the SEC.

In games where yards -- and maybe points -- will be plentiful, Missouri's offense needs to match its opponents when needed. In this week's statistical breakdown, we're taking a look at how Missouri has done in that regard through ten games this season.

Missouri's offense following defensive scoring drives

Opponents have had 37 scoring drives against Missouri this season, ending with 23 touchdowns and 14 field goals. However, we're ignoring two scoring drives in this breakdown:

-- Against Indiana, the Hoosiers scored late in the game, and Missouri's ensuing offensive drive was a one-play kneel down.

-- Against South Carolina, the Gamecocks scored a touchdown to end the first overtime period. Because of overtime rules, South Carolina got the ball first in the second period, so Missouri did not have a chance to answer that score.

There are a few interesting takeaways from these numbers.

-- For one, Missouri's passer rating following opponents' scoring drives is 158.3. If you take out Bud Sasser's touchdown pass -- which came following a Georgia score -- Missouri's rating is 151.8, which is almost equal to the passer rating for all of Missouri's quarterbacks this year (150.5).

-- Missouri has not turned the ball over once following an opponent's score. Missouri has only had four three-and-outs in those situations all year, and none have come in conference play. This shows that when Missouri loses some momentum, it is rare that it allows it to snowball.

-- The one exception to that, however, is the South Carolina game. While Missouri did not have a three-and-out on any of those drives, they ran 15 total plays and missed two field goals. Missouri did have a one-play drive, but that came after a botched first play late in the game made the staff decide to let the clock run out, forcing overtime.

-- After James Franklin's injury, Missouri actually started to pass the ball more frequently on drives following an opponent's score. Under Franklin, Missouri dropped back to pass 75 times and ran the ball 78 times. Once Maty Mauk took over, Missouri passed the ball 24 times and ran the ball 20 times in much more limited situations.

Franklin completed 48 of his 70 pass attempts for 597 yards and three touchdowns for a QB rating of 154.4. Mauk completed 12 of 24 attempts for 188 yards, two touchdowns and a QB rating of 143.3. Franklin averaged 8.5 yards per attempt; Mauk averaged 7.8.

Again, Mauk's opportunities were much fewer, as opponents only had 11 scoring drives in his four games as starter.

-- Missouri actually runs the ball better in these situations. It averages 6.73 yards per carry over those 100 carries with 12 touchdowns. In all other situations, Missouri averages 5.4 yards per carry with 14 touchdowns in 312 carries.

-- These stats are skewed, of course, by the score of the game. When opponents scored in the second half, with Missouri already up big, the Tigers focused on running the ball and controlling the clock.

It's tough to put these numbers into context without being able to compare them to all the other SEC teams, but more often than not, when Missouri's defense gets pushed, the offense pushes right back. The Tigers are scoring touchdowns on 51.4-percent of those drives, and have only had four three-and-outs. Missouri has never let an opponent's momentum build by turning the ball over on the ensuing drive, and is doing a good job of putting drives together, even if they don't score points.

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