Blaine Gabbert struggles as No. 12 Missouri comes up short

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Taylor Potts gave Texas Tech the jolt it needed after the Red Raiders fell behind early to Missouri (No. 12 BCS, No. 14 AP).

Potts came off the bench and threw for 188 yards and three touchdowns to lead Texas Tech over the Tigers 24-17 on Saturday night.

"We needed some momentum, and I tell you, he was on," Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We felt like that we knew Potts would stay in there, stay in the pocket because he's done it all year long."

Potts didn't start for the first time this season but came in late in the first half and threw TD passes of 8, 5 and 16 yards on three straight possessions by the Red Raiders (5-4, 3-4 Big 12) spanning the halves to wipe out a 17-3 deficit.

Missouri unraveled for two quarters, but Zaviar Gooden's interception at the Tigers 2 kept the game close. Still, the Tigers failed to move the ball into Red Raiders territory.

Blaine Gabbert completed 12 of 30 passes for 95 yards for the Tigers (7-2, 3-2), who have lost two straight and will have a tough time catching first-place Nebraska in the Big 12 North. Missouri lost to the Cornhuskers last week.

Tuberville has said all season he wanted his team to get 150 yards rushing a game. Texas Tech got 198 on 51 carries, with Baron Batch going for 134.

Missouri had chances with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game. Gabbert threw two passes into the end zone from the Texas Tech 34 that appeared catchable. But neither Wes Kemp nor Jerrell Jackson could pull the ball in for a tying score.

Potts watched from the sideline as backup quarterback Steven Sheffield started. Sheffield completed 11 of 20 passes for 99 yards.

"The plan was to play both the whole time," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "The plan was to get Taylor in in the second quarter, which we were able to do, and I told him before the game we were just going to go with the hot hand. Taylor led us on that touchdown drive."

When Potts went in the Red Raiders' offense began to click at the same time that Missouri began to struggle. After the first quarter, Gabbert's passes lacked accuracy. He completed only three in the third quarter for 15 yards.

"I think any time you are not executing, you look at the quarterback. But it is also everyone around him, coaches included," Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. "There are things he could have done better but there is not a player on offense, coach too, who could not have done better."

On the third play from scrimmage, Marcus Murphy took a pitch from Gabbert and rumbled 69 yards for a 7-0 lead. It was the longest rushing play of the season for Missouri. The teams traded three-and-outs before Kendial Lawrence bested Murphy's run and went 71 yards untouched along the far sideline to make it 14-0.

The two TD runs gave Missouri just 2 fewer yards (140) than they got the whole game in its 31-17 loss at Nebraska (142). The Tigers finished with 260 yards rushing on 31 carries. Lawrence had 102 yards on six tries.

Sheffield, who started his first game of the season, struggled to put drives together. On five of the seven drives with Sheffield taking snaps the Red Raiders punted. They got a field goal to trail 14-3 and lost a fumble on the other two possessions.

"Sheffield came in and looked a little nervous," Tuberville said. "That was probably the best defense that we've seen all year long. They got after him and he didn't settle his feet. We just felt it was time -- you know, let's let him settle down and put Potts in the game and see if he can get going and obviously it helped."

With about 5 minutes left in the half Tuberville pulled Sheffield and put in Potts, who promptly led Texas Tech on 16-play drive, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Detron Lewis.

After dominating the first quarter, Missouri got 85 total yards in the second and 22 in the third. The Tigers managed only three first downs in the second half.

Batch said it wouldn't have mattered who was playing quarterback early on.

"At the beginning of the game we weren't communicating well," he said. "We had missed some calls and I think some guys settled down and we just made plays."

College Football News