All the warning signs were there.
Kentucky had rushed for 333 yards against Missouri in the Tigers’ sternest test of the season through its first three games. Southeast Missouri State, mostly against the second- and third-stringers, granted, picked up 294 yards on the ground.
So safety Martez Manuel wanted to shut people up in Week 4, prove the doubters wrong. Instead, after another day of ground-game woes, the lambasting is likely to get louder.
Missouri was unable to withstand the Boston College rushing onslaught Saturday, falling 41-34 in overtime on the road. For the second time in two games against Power Five opposition, the Tigers’ most obvious weakness was exposed early, often and throughout.
The rollercoaster game was no different for those defending.
“It’s good that our team wanted it bad,” linebacker Blaze Alldredge said. “That’s a sign, but we’ve got some young players, and you can’t get emotional and want it so bad that you slip up on your assignment, which is kind of what happened on a couple of those play actions.
“We got too emotional about making a big play and stopping the run, and then somebody comes free on the play action. That’s what happens.”
Although the Eagles passed more than perhaps anticipated — BC’s backup quarterback Dennis Grosel was 18 of 29 for 175 yards — Missouri was punished most frequently on the run. Boston picked up 275 yards rushing, compared to Missouri’s 88.
“We’ll figure it out. That’s what we’ve gotta do,” MU coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. ... “We’ve gotta go to work, and it’s more about us than it is about anybody else right now.”
Fixing the run had been a point of emphasis during the week. Drinkwitz said Tuesday that he knew what he would do if here were Boston College coach Jeff Hafley. He said it was up to them to stop it.
Boston College running back Pat Garwo III rushed home his team’s first score of the game on just its fifth snap. He went 67 yards without much — or anything — obscuring his path. Garwo ended the game with 175 yards, making him the third player to put up triple digits on the ground against the Tigers in four games this season, joining Central Michigan’s Lew Nichols (135 yards) and Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez Jr. (199).
The Eagles rushed for gain nine times in a hair under six minutes during their go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter. That included Travis Levy’s 5-yard touchdown that saw no opposition — until Jaylon Carlies briefly got in the way, and then ended up back out of the way as Levy charged through him and home.
Missouri had the ball for just 78 seconds in the third quarter. Bazelak’s first pick of the game came on his second touch of the quarter at the 7:42 mark.
Prior to that, the Eagles received the ball with the game tied at 17. They took their time in racking up their third score, completing the drive in 8:18 before Garwo punched in his second, this time from 3 yards.
After Bazelak’s pick, Missouri didn’t see the ball again for more than seven minutes.
Boston College ran for a first down seven times during the quarter — including a 5-yard scramble from Grosel on fourth down to keep the drive going — eating up lots of time, and seldom being stopped.
“Going in, we knew that we needed to try and stop the run and make them a little more one-dimensional,” Alldredge said. “We had spurts where we did that, but when you don’t do it the whole game and you get your DBs a little too dug in on the run because you’re not stopping it, it opens the things up for the explosives.”
SEC play resumes next week, and the defensive line has yet to prove it can go back-to-back snaps without being exposed. Before the end of the season, Missouri has to face six of the 11 SEC running backs that had more than 200 yards rushing entering Week 4.
“We’ve just gotta get out there and we’ve gotta get the one stop,” Alldredge said. “That’s kind of been an emphasis in these past two losses, is we feel like we’ve gotta get the one stop. It’s hard to do — it’s college football, it’s hard to win games. It’s not anything crazy. We’re not hectic.”