UPDATE via Associated Press:
No. 17 LSU will travel to Missouri's home stadium for a late-morning kickoff Saturday instead of hosting the game at night as originally scheduled because of Hurricane Delta's expected landfall in or near Louisiana later this week.
The Southeastern Conference announced the move on Wednesday. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement that moving the game was in the best interest of safety for Louisiana.
The game will be played at 11 a.m. CDT in Columbia, after being previously scheduled for Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri Tigers have a new starting quarterback and a new venue for Saturday's game against No. 17 LSU.
As tropical storm Delta strengthened from a Category 2 into a Category 4 hurricane Tuesday, with sustained wind speeds of 145 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center forecast the storm to turn north, with Baton Rouge directly in its path and landfall projected by Friday in the U.S.
Missouri and LSU started Tuesday confident the game would be played as scheduled in Baton Rouge, and began discussions about potential schedule adjustments as it became less likely the scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff in Death Valley would happen. Though the Southeastern Conference said it would make an official determination Wednesday morning, Missouri and LSU officials both expect the game to be moved to Columbia for an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday.
KOMU's Ben Arnet first reported the news.
Fan attendance is likely, but an announcement on restrictions and allotments cannot be made until the venue change is official. Originally scheduled for ESPN, the TV assignment is also not yet known.
Hurricane Delta is projected to create a storm surge and dump 4-8 inches of rain on southern Louisiana, with winds in excess of 50 miles per hour. The Advocate reported Tuesday afternoon LSU looked into moving the game to an NFL stadium either in Dallas or Houston, but both the Cowboys and Texans have home games scheduled for the following day.
Missouri and LSU have met in football only twice — and never in Columbia — with the Tigers winning the 1978 Liberty Bowl 20-15 and the Bayou Bengals winning the only conference matchup, 42-7, in Baton Rouge in 2016.
LSU is the only SEC team yet to play a conference game at Faurot Field. The 12-year rotation schedule released in 2014 gave Missouri a home game against LSU in 2023. Much has changed since then. The other remaining holdout, Mississippi, previously played home-and-homes with Missouri in 1978-79 and 2006-07 and played an SEC game at Faurot Field in 2019, a 38-27 Tigers win on Homecoming.
As for the starting quarterback, after Connor Bazelak played most of last Saturday's loss at Tennessee in relief, head coach Eli Drinkwitz said Tuesday in his weekly press conference Bazelak would start against LSU.
"I thought he handled the situation well, he got in, we moved the ball offensively, he moved the ball on third downs," Drinkwitz said of Bazelak. "He made good decisions in the pocket. There are some things that he missed and some things that he's got to improve on, but I just felt like he handled the situation well and he gave us a chance, and we're gonna stick with him."
Robinson was 1-of-4 passing (with a drop by a receiver) for zero yards on Missouri's first two offensive drives against the Volunteers, and the two drives he led went 13 yards in nine plays with one first down.
Bazelak completed 13-of-21 (62 percent) of his passes for 218 yards — all career-bests — and an interception, and his first two drives resulted in field goals. He led a touchdown drive late in the third quarter, though could not complete a pass on the two-point try, and was marching the Tigers down the field to potentially make it a one-score game before he was intercepted at the Tennessee 17-yard line.
Four of Bazelak's incompletions were also drops, including a wide-open Dominic Gicinto over the top for what looked to be a touchdown. Saturday will be his second collegiate start, following the Arkansas game last year that ended in a torn ACL for Bazelak.
"Yeah, I've worked hard, obviously with the ACL," Bazelak said Tuesday. "I put a lot of time and effort into my rehab to be able to get back for fall camp, for the summer. A lot of time while everyone was at home in quarantine, I was doing rehab in the training room, so I'm just happy that I was able to do that and now I'm here and I'm just going game by game."
Bazelak said he felt 100 percent in mid-June before summer workouts and was at full strength for fall camp, and said the injury never deterred him from working to try to be the starter this season.
Missouri struggled to keep up with Tennessee offensively, as the Volunteers dominated the line of scrimmage with their burly O-line, paving the way for Eric Gray and Ty Chandler to rack up a combined 195 yards on 35 carries. Linebacker Nick Bolton had a busy day, recording a career-high 17 tackles, the most by a Tigers defender since Sean Weatherspoon had 20 against Buffalo in 2008.
Drinkwitz said Missouri's other 10 defenders need to do a better job around Bolton, and defensive end/linebacker Tre Williams said he saw the same thing on film looking at the Tennessee game.
"I see that he's covering up a lot of slack that's happening in the back," Williams said. "It's not only he's doing his job, Nick Bolton is the workhorse of the defense, so at the same time, Nick Bolton's covering up slack that other people, if they're not doing their job 100 percent, Nick Bolton's covering up there, so he's doing 130 percent."