Missouri still doesn’t look SEC-ready, but the Tigers found a way to grind one out Saturday on the road in a game they absolutely had to have to keep this season afloat.
After trailing at the half, Missouri made just enough plays to slip past UCF 21-16 and generate a little momentum heading into a critical stretch.
The Tigers (3-2, 0-2) return home for back-to-back games against Vanderbilt and Alabama the next two weeks, and then get a bye before traveling to Kentucky.
After giving up a total of 72 points in its two SEC losses this season, Missouri relied on big plays in all three phases of the game to escape with one of those wins that will probably look a lot better a month and a half from now.
Prized freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham scored his first touchdown of the season on an 80-yard reception. Marcus Murphy returned his third punt of the season for a touchdown, this one a 66-yarder to put Missouri ahead 14-10 in the third quarter.
Kendial Lawrence also had a huge 33-yard run when it looked like he might be tackled in the backfield. He followed that up with a 10-yard touchdown run to make it a 21-10 game, and Tigers’ defense sealed the win later in the final quarter when Sheldon Richardson pounced on a UCF fumble.
It was the 23rd consecutive game that Missouri had forced a turnover, and couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers.