COLUMBIA, Mo. — After an SEC loss to Kentucky last week, Missouri's best medicine was facing an overmatched in-state foe in Southeast Missouri State.
Missouri took out any leftover frustration from last week's loss on the FCS Redhawks, putting the game to bed early in a 59-28 win Saturday at Faurot Field.
"You've got to play to a standard," Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. "And I thought we did a nice job of playing to the standard that we wanted to do in the way we wanted to play."
Tyler Badie had 95 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches with three first-half scores, while Connor Bazelak was 21-of-30 passing for 346 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half.
Badie scored on the Tigers' first two possessions. He started his day with a 49-yard rush where he cut through a hole and raced down the sideline to open the scoring with 12:16 left in the first before catching a screen pass and scampering into the end zone for an 11-yard score to put MU up 14-0 six minutes later.
D'ionte "Boo" Smith beat a SEMO corner on a post route the next possession for a 46-yard score that gave Missouri a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Harrison Mevis hit a 43-yard field goal, his third of the season and his 11th straight make dating back to Week 7 of last season and Chance Luper raced for a 52-yard score on a short pass to put Missouri up 31-0 in the second.
Badie capped off his first-half cameo with a 1-yard score with 13 seconds left in the first half. After 458 first-half yards produced a 38-0 lead before most of the offensive starters sat the remainder of the contest.
"I just do my job," Badie said. "That's what (Drinkwitz) always says, 'Do your job, and the plays will come.' So really I do what he tells me and when I got out there it happens the way its supposed to happen I guess."
Brady Cook and Tyler Macon took the reigns at quarterback in the second half. The two have been battling all camp for the backup quarterback job behind Bazelak.
Cook got the first shot and completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Young to put Missouri up 45-0 before Macon answered with a 65-yard touchdown strike to J.J. Hester on his first-career pass attempt to put Missouri up 52-7. Macon was the signal-caller for the rest of the afternoon and finished 3-for-4 passing with 69 yards and a score.
Macon was one of five Tigers with their first career touchdown Saturday, joined by Hester, Smith, Luper, and Michael Cox, who burst through the middle of the defense for a 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Macon, Cook and Bazelak had a lot of different weapons at their disposal with 12 different Tigers catching passes. Most of those players played with all three quarterbacks as part of a unit that substitutes heavily.
"We've got a lot of guys that can make plays," Missouri receiver Keke Chism said. "No matter who's out there, it's a confidence that we have about our business that whenever we're given an opportunity we're able to make those plays."
SEMO got on the board in between those possessions with a 4-yard touchdown run by Geno Hess. The touchdown was the Redhawks' first-ever against Missouri in five meetings dating back to 1939. Shamenski Rucker tripled that total with an 18-yard touchdown run up the middle with 13:14 left before a 2-yard score cut the MU lead to 52-21 with 5:00 left.
The Redhawks wouldn't be done there. Q'Nairies Anderson outraced all the reserve MU defenders for a 75-yard score with two minutes left to pull within 59-28. SEMO finished with 310 yards rushing and four scores on the ground, most of that came in the second half.
"I knew we were going on the road (next week)," Drinkwitz said. "I also know that crazy things can happen like targeting where you would miss guys in the first half. Injuries play a factor because you have games moving forward, so we were playing freshmen, true freshmen who literally have not been over on the defensive side of the ball all week because they've been running scouting team."
The starting defense had a lot more success to bounce back after giving up over 500 yards last week to Kentucky. They forced more punts in the first half (five) than the three first downs it conceded before also shuffling in a bench unit that gave up a couple of late scores.
SEMO had only 69 total yards in the first half with an average of 3.7 yards per carry. The run defense was a focus coming in for the starters, according to Drinkwitz.
"I thought we were much better at destroying blocks," Drinkwitz said. "I thought we were much better tackling. For the most part in the first half, we shut them out."
Kris Abrams-Draine made a leaping interception on the first drive of the second half while Allie Green had a pick that was called off for an illegal hands to the face penalty on a defensive lineman.
That defense was without starting corner Ennis Rakestraw, who missed the game with starting offensive lineman Case Cook. Drinkwitz said both could have played, but he didn't want to push it after they suffered minor injuries last week.
Missouri travels to play Boston College at 11 a.m. Saturday in Chesnut Hill, Mass.