Damarea Crockett rushed for 156 yards and four touchdowns Saturday but Missouri still lost, 51-45, to Middle Tennessee/ (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

COLUMBIA – What has been a frustrating season for the Missouri Tigers might have hit rock bottom on Saturday – for now.

A 51-45 loss to Middle Tennessee on homecoming dropped the Tigers to 2-5 and ranks as one of their worst non-conference losses, a game they were counting on if they had any hopes of winning enough games to qualify for a bowl game.

The Tigers go back into SEC competition next Saturday, where they are 0-3, and could now realistically be looking at their fewest wins in a season since they won two games in 1989 and their first winless conference season since 1971.

The 51 points was the most Missouri has allowed in a home non-conference game since giving up 51 to Iowa Navy Pre-Flight in 1944 and it was the third consecutive game in which they allowed 40 or more points, the first time that has happened since 1996.

Middle Tennessee scored more points against Missouri than it did in games this season against Bowling Green, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Western Kentucky. It was the Blue Raiders’ first win against a team from a Power 5 conference since they beat Georgia Tech in 2012 and their first victory against an SEC school since a win over Vanderbilt in 2005.

The problem on Saturday was on defense, where the Tigers lost starters Michael Scherer and John Gibson in the first quarter and Terry Beckner Jr., in the second half, all to knee injuries.

Scherer is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday but the extent of all of the injuries was not immediately known.

The Missouri offense produced 629 yards of total offense, getting 156 yards and four rushing touchdowns from freshman Damarea Crockett, but it wasn’t enough. Crockett became the first true freshman in school history to have three 100-yard games and the first player to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Tony Temple in the 2008 Cotton Bowl. Ish Witter also rushed for 121 yards as the Tigers gained 348 yards on the ground.

“Very disappointed as the head coach to come out on the short end of that one,” said Missouri coach Barry Odom. “They ran the ball a lot more efficiently than I thought they should have.”

The Tigers allowed 584 yards in total offense, including 300 on the ground. I’Tavius Mathers accounted for 215 of those yards on 28 carries. Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns.

The Tigers also were called for 13 penalties, one of which was particularly costly. After a punt which would have put Middle Tennessee on its own 9-yard line with 3 minutes left in the first half, trailing by a point, Missouri was called for an illegal motion penalty. That wiped out the punt and forced another attempt, and a low snap instead gave Middle Tennessee the ball on the Mizzou 7, and the Blue Raiders scored on the next play to take the lead into halftime.

After trailing by the 34-28 margin at the half, Missouri took the lead by one point 1:33 into the third quarter on a 21-yard run by Crockett but the Blue Raiders regained the lead – for good – with a touchdown of their own 2:10 later.

A field goal gave the Blue Raiders the six-point lead with just over six minutes left in the game, giving Missouri a chance to stage a late comeback, but the Tigers only gained a combined nine yards on two drives, one of which ended with a punt and the final one on downs.

Missouri will host Kentucky at 11 a.m. next Saturday.

----------

Post-game Audio: By Mike Reeves

Head Coach Barry Odom