After watching 2 botched fumble calls and a questionable holding call on the Tigers, you can blame the refs, but that wouldn't be an accurate analysis of the reason the Tigers lost on Saturday. The Tigers simply had poor play calling and did not execute on offense in the 2nd half, and that cost them a win tonight.
Let's start with what I think was the main reason the Tigers lost tonight: poor play calling. Many times during the game, my family members and I were left scratching our heads at the refusal of Gary Pinkel and Dave Yost to give Derrick Washington and the rushing attack a chance to build on the success they saw early in the game.
The running game was thought to be a big strength of the team coming into the year, but it hasn't been successful thus far this season. Maybe the coaches came into this game thinking that they couldn't count on the rushing attack in, but I believe you have to adjust your game plan when the running backs are obviously looking better than they have all year.
Throwing the ball 44 times with a hobbled Blaine Gabbert and consistently running empty back sets was a crucial game planning error from the Tigers. The failure to recognize that Gabbert was too hobbled to be effective also was a big reason the Tigers lost this game.
Another huge reason Mizzou lost this game was losing the turnover battle. The Tigers haven't had too many problems with turnovers thus far, but the 4 turnovers that Mizzou had to Oklahoma State's 0 was another huge factor that would have been tough to overcome.
The passing game was fairly effective in the first half, but it seemed as if Mizzou made turnovers at the wrong time in both half's. The key play in this game was Gabbert's interception that went through the hands of a wide open Jerrell Jackson into the hands of an Oklahoma State defender who took it in to the end zone for 6. That possible 14-point swing gave Oklahoma State all the momentum and seemed to crush the spirits of the Tigers.
Also, could the Tigers catch a break once this season? Whether it was the 2 questionable fumbles that didn't go Mizzou's way or the phantom holding call on Jasper Simmons' great kickoff return, the Tigers never had anything go their way. There were no balls that happened to slip out of an Oklahoma State player's hands or anything like that. For the Tigers to win without getting any breaks they would have had to play a lot crisper and they just didn't do that on Saturday.
Finally, the dagger was the TD on the last play of the half for the Pokes. The fact that the Cowboys took the lead going into the half knowing that they would also be getting the ball out of the gates in the 2nd half was kind of the last straw for Mizzou's confidence. Everything went wrong for the Tigers in the last 30 minutes and they paid the price with a loss.