OXFORD, Miss. (MUTigers.com) - Henry Josey had two of No. 8 Mizzou's three touchdowns, as the Tigers rolled to a 24-10 win over No. 24 Ole Miss on Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The win keeps Missouri (10-1, 6-1 SEC) a half-game ahead of South Carolina in the SEC East race, setting up a do-or-die situation next Saturday night in Columbia: If the Tigers beat Texas A&M, Mizzou is headed to Atlanta; if the Aggies win, the Gamecocks are the East representative.
Ole Miss had 1st & goal from the Tiger 7-yard line, but the Mizzou defense drove the Rebels backwards until Bo Wallace's 4th-down attempt fell incomplete. The Tigers took over from their own 13-yard line with 8 minutes, 8 seconds left to play. Thirteen rushes and five first downs later, Missouri had its fourth 10-win season in the last seven years. It was also Gary Pinkel's 100th career win at the University.
"To say I'm proud of my football team and my staff would be an understatement," Pinkel said. "They battle every time they play. They prepare well and focus at a very high level."
James Franklin completed 12 of 19 passes for 142 yards and an interception in his first start since a shoulder injury caused him to miss four games.
"I thought he did an outstanding job," Pinkel said. "The guy hadn't played in six weeks and there was a lot of pressure on him to play well."
As it has so often this season, the Tigers got on board first. Franklin spearheaded an eight-play, 72-yard drive to begin the game that ended on a 4-yard Josey run.
Randy Ponder picked off Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace on the Rebels' ensuing drive to mark the nation-leading 41st consecutive game with a takeaway for the Tiger defense. Ponder finished the game with four total passes defended after a trio of breakups to go with his fourth career interception.
After Josh Augusta's block of an Andrew Ritter field-goal try kept the Rebels off the board, Andrew Baggett capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 33-yard kick of his own midway through the second half to push the margin to 10-0. The Tigers took a 10-3 lead into the locker room; Mizzou has outscored its seven SEC foes by a 154-29 margin in the first half this season.
A 45-yard touchdown run from I'Tavius Mathers brought the Rebels within seven on the first drive of the second half, but Josey's second TD pushed the margin back to 14.
The Tigers finished with 485 total yards, including 260 on the ground.
"We're just a focused team," Missouri linebacker Andrew Wilson said. "The coaches did a good job keeping us focused. We had a great gameplan. We knew what we had to do."