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Per the Data: Why beating Missouri on the road is going to be tough

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The numbers aren’t kind.

NCAA Football: Troy at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kelly Bryant at full health or not, Ole Miss has its’ work cut out for them against Mizzou on Saturday. The best player on either side of the ball, and quarterback of the defense, Cale Garrett is out of the season after suffering an injury last week against Troy. Garrett plays big and fast, at 6’3, 235 pounds, the senior led the team with 34 tackles, six run stuffs, three interceptions, and a pair of passes defensed.

That said, running on this Mizzou defense is going to make for a long night.

Offense

20th in points per game

This isn’t really an advanced stat. Actually, its the most basic and oldest of stats. But, folks need to know this Missouri offense puts up points in bunches. Since their 37-31 loss at altitude in Laramie, Wyo., the Tigers have scored 38, 50, 34, and 42 in four straight wins. Their 34 point output came in a 34-14 beat down of South Carolina.

15th in rushing SP+

The Tigers rushing attack is the strength of their offense. It helps that Kelly Bryant can get yards when needed, but Larry Rountree III is averaging 5.3 yards per carry for Mizzou and has five touchdowns in five games. Sophomore Tyler Badie is just 5’9, 190, but is the lightning to Rountree and Bryant’s thunder. Badie is also a threat in the passing game out of the backfield, with 16 catches on 20 targets for 141 yards and a score.

21st in passing down sack rate

Missouri starts an experienced line with a pair of seniors and juniors, along with a three-year starter at tight end. It shows on passing downs, where the Tigers allow sacks on just four percent of plays in obvious passing situations.

66th in percent of 1st downs coming on 1st or 2nd down

This may seem a little strange, but basically Missouri struggles to hit big plays on first and second down. They’re methodical at getting into medium or short yardage on third down and moving the chains that way, but they won’t have too many big gains on first and second down. This means longer drives and a worn down defense. For a team like Ole Miss which lacks depth, getting that stop on third down is more critical than ever.

113th in goal line success rate

Absent their strong running game, when the Tigers get down near the goal line they struggle punching it in. Combine at 38 percent success rate with a first-and-goal success rate ranking just 89th, and it’s obvious they have trouble against power sets.

Defense

1st in marginal efficiency

Here is where things go south if you’re reading this as an Ole Miss fan. Missouri doesn’t give up many big plays, but when they do they are exceptional at keeping the ball in front of them. They’re the best in the country at it. Better than Alabama, Florida, Clemson...anyone.

3rd in success rate

The problem above is compounded by the fact that teams struggle to even get a successful play against the Missouri defense. Teams are successful just 27.8 percent of the time. Broken down, that means every other time teams get the ball they will go three-and-out. Even when you’re successful its typically not for a big chunk of yards, so you must repeat the process all over again.

1st in standard down success rate

If there is one thing to be concerned about for Saturday, it’s this. Missouri is really good at stopping you on standard downs. Those are 1st-and-10, 2nd-and-5 or less, and 3rd or 4th-and-2 or less. The idea is you can run or pass on these downs—and any semblance of balance means you do each about half of the time. Few teams are running on 3rd-and-9, but on 3rd-and-2 your options are open.

Missouri is really good at stopping this. Ole Miss is already likely to be below average on obvious passing downs, so they’ll need to make hay on these type of plays. The Tigers, again, are really good at stopping these types of plays. As an Ole Miss fan, the concern is whether John Rhys Plumlee can pass the ball once put in that position.

4th in passing completion rate

If the above didn’t scare you enough—and it should’ve—then knowing the Missouri defense allows just a 47.7 percent completion rate should top it off. Only five teams in FBS hold opponents to below 50 percent.

70th in 21-to-30 yard line success rate

Combine that with 61st in 11-to-20 and, and you’ll see Missouri struggles when their backs are against the wall. They’re really good when they have space to work with, but against packages with larger bodies where teams tend to run more, they’re not as solid.

14th in havoc rate

They’re going to make big plays. Their defensive backs are 17th nationally in this category, meaning they will break up passes when needed and get to the QB on blitzes. Of course, this is their first game with Cale Garrett, so how much of a whole he leaves in their defense remains to be seen.