Column: The greatest game ever played

The last time a Missouri offense was this successfully bad was in 1937.
Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCary (2) celebrates the win after the Missouri vs. Vanderbilt game Oct. 24, 2015, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

In 2005, Walt Disney Pictures released the film, “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

Shia LaBeouf played Francis Ouimet, the first amateur golfer to ever win the U.S. Open. It’s a beautiful Disney sports movie. There’s an uplifting soundtrack. There’s the goofy sidekick caddy. There’s even a little romance. It’s pretty good and has a 7.5 rating on — surprisingly high for a Shia LaBeouf film.

The film, based on a true story, may need a sequel after Saturday’s Missouri-Vanderbilt game, one that could be dubbed the “Second Greatest Game Ever Played.”

Scratch that. After further review, the referees (who made went to replay eight times Saturday for reviews) have overturned the call.

The 10-3 Missouri (4-4, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) loss was truly the greatest game ever played.

In one of the most spectacular offensive performances in Missouri football history, the Tigers put up a whopping three points while racking up 188 yards of offense on the hopeless Vanderbilt defense.

In the past three games, Missouri has racked up 12 points from four field goals.

Dropped passes, despairing runs and Drew Lock overthrows led the way for Missouri to drive the ball all afternoon on the Commodores. A dominant run game, led by punter Corey Fatony and freshman pocket-passing quarterback Lock, stormed through a tough Vanderbilt defensive line for 80 yards.

Lock led the Tigers in rushing with 39 yards on the ground. Senior running back Russell Hansbrough powered for 12 yards in eight attempts.

The commanding offensive unit, which hasn’t scored a touchdown in three games, has been historic. No Missouri offense has failed to score in a trio of consecutive games since 1937, when Don Faurot was head coach.

Saturday was homecoming for the Vanderbilt alumni in the Music City. The weather: A perfect 73 and mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of rain. The crowd: 31,128 strong, filling over 78 percent of the smallest Southeastern Conference stadium. The atmosphere: electric. Small patches of boos roared through Vanderbilt Stadium, deafening even sportswriters safely protected by the press box’s half-inch-thick plexiglass.

Everything about Saturday’s loss was glorious.

“We’re frustrated. Pissed off,” senior Ian Simon said. “We’re doing a lot of things right, but we have little stuff to fix.”

With a chance to tie the game in the final minute, Lock and the Tigers drove down into Vanderbilt territory, advancing to the 13-yard line before the four straight incompletions ended the dominant offense’s night.

Lock had four attempts to advance his Tigers to overtime, where the game may have lasted into the wee hours of Saturday night in Nashville. All four tries came up short.

“Down here in the red zone, I wish I had all four of those last plays back,” Lock said. “I could tell you what I could do different, but I’d be wasting my time. I can’t go back and change it now.”

The Tigers’ offensive field position couldn’t have been better Saturday, as they started at or within their own 20-yard line eight times. Half of the Tigers’ drives ended in three-and-outs.

Fatony, the true freshman punter, had a record-setting day, punting the ball a career-high nine times for a total of 429 yards. The freshman also blew by defenders on a fake punt that went for 26 yards, extending a Missouri drive just so kicker Andrew Baggett could bounce a field goal off the upright.

Fatony, who grew up just 20 minutes from Vanderbilt Stadium, had plenty of family and friends in the crowd cheering on his Tigers. The thoughtful offense rewarded his hometown return by letting him punt on nine of their 14 drives.

Just when it seemed Missouri’s offense would have another chance to storm down the field for a game-tying touchdown, freshman Cam Hilton muffed a punt, giving up the ball at his own 28-yard line. The fumble was his second muffed punt return in as many games.

The loss put the ferocious Tigers at .500 and advanced them to 1-4 in conference play. Pinkel’s Tigers are now tied for last in the SEC East, a division they won the past two years.

Some uplifting stats for Missouri fans:

o 188 total yards of offense Saturday

o 80 rushing yards on 19 carries

o 10 total first downs Saturday

o 0-14 on third down attempts

o 3-41 on third down in the last three games

o 21:36 minutes of offensive possession

o 5 of 14 possessions ended in Vanderbilt territory.

o Punter Corey Fatony had a career-high 9 punts.

o Quarterback Drew Lock threw the ball 34 times, completing 14 passes.

o Missouri has gone three complete games without scoring a touchdown.

o 40 straight drives without a touchdown.

o 198 minutes and 38 seconds of play without a touchdown.

o The Tigers have 2 fumbled punts in the past 2 games.

o Missouri’s offense has been on the field for just 36 percent of the last three games.

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