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And just like that, all was forgiven.

Connor Bazelak and Missouri were booed for long stretches of the game and perhaps rightfully so. But when an empathic “M-I-Z” chant rang out around Memorial Stadium after a Tyler Badie touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to Daniel Parker Jr., those boos were long, long gone.

Missouri defeated Florida 24-23 in overtime, securing bowl eligibility in the process in a dramatic finish Saturday in Columbia.

There were likely very few people that thought Missouri (6-5, 3-4 SEC) against Florida (5-6, 2-6) — with guaranteed bowl eligibility on the line for both teams — was ever going to be a pretty affair. It won’t shock many people that the game was frequently scruffy, often outright ugly and needed free football to find its resolution.

In the end, there were just a few discernible moments of quality amidst a feast of blatantly average plays, but Missouri got the one it needed.

Badie needed just two runs to get into the end zone from 30 yards out in MU's first possession of overtime — just two snaps after Florida quarterback Emory Jones had given the Gators the advantage with an overtime-opening touchdown.

Then Missouri took a timeout.

Memorial held its breath.

Bazelak walked back out.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey said he got chills when he heard they were going for two. Badie said that Drinkwitz said the Tigers were doing it "from the jump."

The Tigers were risking it all, win or lose, on one play.

"It's a strategic decision," Drinkwitz said. "If you have offense the second set, you've gotta go back on offense and you have to go for two. So, why have to go back on offense and then have to go for two? You might as well do it then."

Bazelak was scrambling as soon as he caught the snap. He peeled back, Badie peeled right. All eyes were on them, and apparently no eyes were on Missouri’s tight end.

The QB lobbed it high in the direction of a wide-open Parker Jr. He came down with it.

Bazelak had his redemption.

"Of course, everybody wants 300 yards, five touchdowns, six touchdowns, you know, all these big numbers, but at the end of the day, if we win the game that's all that matters," Badie said. "That's what he did for us. He won us the game."

It turned out that Parker Jr. was Bazelak's third read on the play.

"Connor made a hell of a play," Drinkwitz said. "The first read is a pass flat by Tyler (Badie) and the end went really wide, which then took away our second read, which was the under by Barrett (Banister). ...

"Every Friday we practice that play, and yesterday ... Connor came out and fakes it, looks, buys the exact same play he did right there and threw it up to Daniel and caught it. I thought, 'Well, that's interesting.'"

It marked Missouri’s second win in a row. It’s the Tigers’ third win in four games, all against SEC East oppositions.

It was the biggest win of the season.

But it could have been over before that.

With a little more than a minute left on the clock, Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis did something he hasn’t been prone to doing — and missed a goal with the game tied at 16 and 1:04 remaining on the game clock.

And before Bazelak, Badie and Parker Jr. saved the day, it was often tough viewing for Tiger fans.

Bazelak and Missouri opened the second half with three straight three-and-outs, that resulted in 7 yards of total offense. The Tigers didn’t make it across the halfway line in the third quarter until time expired, when Badie ran 36 yards in two plays to get MU to the Florida 49. Bazelak did not complete a pass in the third quarter.

Boos from the Memorial crowd were as frequent as Missouri punts in the quarter.

"I think everybody has a right to express their opinions," Drinkwitz said. "That's fine, but these young men are playing as hard as they possibly can, and they're not perfect. None of us are. The No. 1 quarterback requirement is, 'Ignore the noise,' and all that's a lot of noise. ...

"I get it. The most popular person on the football team is the backup quarterback, but right now Connor gives us the best opportunity to win the game."

There was once again plenty of speculation surrounding who would start — Bazelak or Brady Cook. Bazelak won the spot, but did little in regulation to end any speculation surrounding the position ahead of the Tigers’ next game against Arkansas. The Gators managed to stunt his production until the crucial moment.

He finished the game with 15 of 26 passing for 165 yards — 50 of which came on a single pass to Tauskie Dove in the second quarter, and 41 on the TD pass to Hea.

After 15 minutes of mediocrity opened Missouri’s second half, including a 2-yard Dameon Pierce touchdown that put the Gators in front for more than 15 minutes of game time, Bazelak found some inspiration in the fourth quarter. He passed to a wide-open Niko Hea, who ran most of the 41 yards for Missouri’s first touchdown of the day.

The play won't go on Tyler Badie's stat sheet, but according to Drinkwitz, he called the play.

"I heard Barrett say, '(Florida is) watching the screen,'" Badie said. "So the best way to help the team at that point is to be a decoy, so that's what I did. I think I did a good job acting, throwing my hands up, got Niko open and he scored the touchdown."

Before there was any magic, however, the game was marked by the entire spectrum of possibility on special teams. 

Missouri’s first points arrived after a duality of punters. MU punter Grant McKinniss downed one on the Florida 2-yard line after the Tigers’ first drive stalled short of the half. Missouri managed a three-and-out, and Florida punter Jeremy Crawshaw caught the hosel, shanking one straight out to the 18-yard line.

Mevis made no mistake from 39 yards and added two more three-point conversions before the end of the half to give the Tigers a three-point lead at the half.

It all added up to a vital sixth win. Few people would have seen it coming after being down to Vanderbilt and winless in conference play.

But against all predictions, the Tigers managed to extend their season beyond Arkansas.

And they were never going to do it the easy way, were they?

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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