September 08, 2015

Missouri didn't have much trouble in the opener despite its starting running back and offensive-line linchpin missing most of it.

Russell Hansbrough and Evan Boehm might not take the field at all for the No. 21 Tigers as they attempt to extend a school-record road win streak Saturday night against Arkansas State.

Hansbrough injured his ankle in the first quarter of last Saturday's 34-3 home win over Southeast Missouri State and did not return. He rushed for 23 yards on two attempts and Missouri averaged just 2.6 on its 28 carries after losing the senior, who ran for a team-leading 1,084 yards in 2014. Sophomore Ish Witter, who had 33 yards on 13 attempts, might start in his place.

Boehm, a preseason all-SEC center, sat out the second half after also hurting his ankle. He has made 41 starts - all in a row - and is 10 shy of breaking the school's all-time record. Alec Abeln, a sophomore guard, moved over to take Boehm's spot and would likely start if he can't go.

Boehm and Hansbrough are considered questionable.

"It is what it is. The next guy has to get in there and play," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. "The guys that back them up came in and did a nice job. They've got to go in and replace them and go make some plays."

Despite its meager rushing average after Hansbrough exited, Missouri finished with 417 yards and had 319 through the air. Incumbent starter Maty Mauk had 181 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while Drew Lock went 6 of 10 for 138 yards and a TD in his collegiate debut.

Missouri will turn its focus toward earning an 11th consecutive road win, and coach Gary Pinkel said Arkansas State's 55-6 loss to No. 8 Southern California last weekend was not indicative of the team the Tigers will face.

"Arkansas State is a very good football team, I think the score was very misleading. On film when they played Southern Cal, they played, I think they really played really well," Pinkel said. "When you have four turnovers to zero (for USC), that kind of gives you misinformation of how close the game really was."

The Red Wolves have won 21 of their last 24 home games but are hosting an AP Top 25 opponent for the first time since a 47-35 loss to No. 25 Memphis on Sept. 18, 2004.

"Missouri has been pretty successful in the last few years as we've noticed, and they're built pretty well," coach Blake Anderson said. "They'll be fast and they'll be plenty powerful. It's another huge challenge."

Arkansas State is returning nine starters from an offense that set five school records, including 6,194 yards and 477 points, in Anderson's first season. Fredi Knighten threw for 3,277 yards and 24 TDs in his first season as a full-time starter, and he rushed for 779 with 11 scores. Michael Gordon ran for 1,100 yards and 13 TDs.

Knighten had 58 yards on 14 carries last Saturday but completed eight of 23 passes for 86 yards. Gordon, also a senior, had 55 yards on 12 attempts and his team's lone TD.

"Their quarterback is a very talented player, great running backs with experience, they have great receivers," Pinkel said.

Missouri could get wide receiver Wesley Leftwich (knee) and safety Cortland Browning (hamstring) back from injuries that kept them out of the opener.

The Tigers, 3-0 against Arkansas State, won 41-19 in the most recent matchup in 2013. Hansbrough had a team-best 96 yards on eight carries.

Missouri won 44-17 in their lone visit to Jonesboro in 2005.

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