Florence’s passing helps Baylor top Missouri 40-32
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)—Freshman Nick Florence passed for a school-record 427 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth, helping Baylor defeat Missouri 40-32 on Saturday.
Kendall Wright set career highs with 10 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears (4-5, 1-4) ended a 13-game Big 12 road losing streak and beat Missouri for the first time in eight tries in conference play. Baylor, worst in the conference against the run, rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit and held Missouri to 10 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Danario Alexander had a career-high 13 receptions for 214 yards and two scores for Missouri (5-4, 1-4), which has lost three straight at home for the first time since 2004. Alexander’s 84-yard reception in the second quarter, the last 65 yards after bouncing off a tackler, was the Tigers’ longest play of the season.
Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert passed for the second highest total in school history, going 30 for 51 for 468 yards and two touchdowns. But he was shut down along with the rest of the Missouri offense in the second half. The Tigers made it to the Baylor 16 in the final minute before running out of downs.
Baylor had been allowing 179.5 yards rushing per game, and the lowest opponent total before Saturday was Wake Forest’s 126 yards in the season opener.
Baylor averaged 8.5 points in its first four conference games and went without a first-half touchdown three straight games before embarrassing Missouri behind Florence, who began the year as the third-string quarterback and moved up due to injuries. Florence completed 11 of his first 12 passes and finished 32 for 43, and he broke the school record of 412 passing yards set by Blake Szymanski in 2007 against Rice.
Szymanski started one game after Robert Griffin was lost for the season with a knee injury in late September, and the senior was the backup Saturday after missing two games with a bruised shoulder.
Baylor had gone 26 games without a 300-yard passing game, let alone a 400-yard game. St. Louis Rams rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick of the draft out of Baylor, took advantage of his team’s week off and watched from the sideline.
Baylor scored on its first two drives. The Bears took a 9-7 lead on their first offensive touchdown in 80 minutes and 4 seconds, Florence’s 8-yard keeper with 2:13 to go in the first quarter.
Gabbert had 322 yards passing in the first half with both touchdowns coming late to help Missouri take a 27-16 lead. The Tigers led 27-16 at the break after Wes Kemp’s 7-yard catch with 1 second to go.
Neither team had any success rushing. Baylor had 30 yards on 24 carries.