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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Eli Drinkwitz arrived at Missouri with a reputation for being one of college football’s brightest offensive minds.

He first proved his chops during coordinator stints at Arkansas State, Boise State and North Carolina State. The last of those stops earned the often-brash, always-confident Arkansas Tech graduate a chance to lead Appalachian State, where in one season as the head coach he went 12-1 and shattered all kinds of offensive records.

Yet his first two games of his COVID-19-delayed tenure in Columbia were hardly impressive. The Tigers were routed 38-19 by second-ranked Alabama, then managed just one touchdown and a couple field goals in a 35-12 loss at Tennessee.

Well, the 37-year-old Drinkwitz finally revealed the breadth of his offensive mind on Saturday.

With freshman Connor Bazelak at quarterback, and despite missing three crucial wide receivers because of COVID-19 protocols, the Tigers still managed to pile up nearly 600 yards of total offense in a 45-41 victory against No. 17 LSU. The Tigers unloaded a series of trick plays — a flea-flicker for a long touchdown, an end-around for another score — that left LSU coach Ed Orgeron dizzy, and left the fans in Columbia thinking that just maybe they have a coach that can lead a rebuild.

“It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me personally right now. This is about our football team, our senior class, what they’ve fought and struggled for,” Drinkwitz said. “I plan on being part of a lot more wins here at Mizzou. It’s never going to be about me. It’s going to be about our football team, our players, our seniors and the identity they’re trying to create.”

The identity they put on the field Saturday was one of a bunch of track stars.

Five of their six touchdowns covered at least 16 yards, including the 58-yard flea-flicker to open the game. Bazelak also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to converted quarterback Micah Wilson and a 21-yarder to Tyler Badie, and Badie and wide receiver Jalen Knox each had long touchdown runs.

It was a short TD throw to Niko Hea that gave Missouri the lead with about five minutes to go. And while it was the defense that stopped LSU four times at the 1-yard line inside the final minute to preserve the victory, it was the thrill-a-minute offense that overcame three turnovers and ultimately put the Tigers in position to pull it off.

“Somebody asked me whether our team played with effort and ticked me off. I think we showed we play with unbelievable effort,” Drinkwitz said. “We just needed a couple breaks, and you know what? We made our own breaks.”

They also overcame plenty of adversity. They were missing three defensive playmakers due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols, along with arguably their three top pass-catchers, forcing Missouri to rely on players well down the depth chart.

Hea and Wilson had their first touchdown catches and Dionte Smith hauled in the first reception of his career.

“I’m so proud of them, just the way they’ve worked all season,” Bazelak said. “They got their opportunities and they stepped up in big moments and made big plays, and just super proud of them. They deserve it.”

Bazelak deserves all the plaudits he received, too.

After taking over for TCU transfer Shawn Robinson as the starter, he proceeded to complete 29 of 34 passes for 408 yards and four touchdowns. It was the second-best completion percentage in a game in school history.

It also came against an LSU defense that is unaccustomed to giving up such offense. The last time the Bayou Bengals allowed 24 points to an unranked team in a half was against Troy in 2008, and the last time the defending national champs allowed 45 to anybody in a game was against Florida the same season.

For its part, Missouri hadn’t scored 45 points against a ranked foe since a 52-42 win over No. 20 Illinois on Aug. 30, 2008.

It all added up to the first win for Missouri against the reigning national champions since a victory over fifth-ranked Notre Dame in 1978. And in a tidy bit of symmetry, that also was the last time a Tigers coach beat a ranked team for his first win.

“Again, it doesn’t mean a lot to me personally,” Drinkwitz said. “This is about the foundation our players are trying to lay as a football program, and this was just the start of it. There’s been a lot of hard work — ‘Is this really going to work?’ — and they found out it does.”

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WBC creates ‘frontline’ championship belt for Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr., will also handle fight scoring

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Despite being an exhibition bout, there will be a championship belt on the line when Mike Tyson returns to the ring to battle fellow former champion Roy Jones Jr. The WBC has created a “Frontline championship” that will be awarded to the winner of the fight, which has been titled the “Frontline Battle.”

Tyson, 54, and Jones, 51, are set to meet on Nov. 28 on pay-per-view. While the fight will be overseen by the California State Athletic Commission, the bout will be scored by a panel of three champions using the WBC’s remote scoring program, according to a press release.

CSAC executive director Andy Foster has insisted that the fight will be stopped if either man suffers a cut and that both Tyson and Jones should not be looking to score a knockout.

“I wanted to have their assurances that they understand, ‘I don’t care if they spar. I don’t care if they work.’ They are world-class athletes, even still,” Foster told in July. “They have a right to earn, and all these types of things. They’re about the same age. We can’t mislead the public as to this is some kind of real fight. They can get into it a little bit, but I don’t want people to get hurt. They know the deal.

“It’s an exhibition. They can exhibit their boxing skills, but I don’t want them using their best efforts to hurt each other. They’re going to spar hard, but they shouldn’t be going for a knockout. This isn’t a record-book type of fight. This is not world-championship boxing right now. It’s not what this is. People shouldn’t be getting knocked out. The public can see what kind of shape Roy and Mike are still in.”

YouTube star Jake Paul will fight former NBA player Nate Robinson in the night’s other featured bout, with former world champion Badou Jack also taking on Blake McKernan on the pay-per-view main card. 

A press conference will be held for the event at 1 p.m. ET on Oct. 29.

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Rishabh Pant omitted from India’s white-ball squads, Varun Chakravarthy in T20I squad

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has been omitted from India’s ODI and T20I squads for the upcoming Australia tour. Rohit Sharma, India’s white-ball vice-captain, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury in the IPL in the UAE, isn’t part of both the squads as well.

Tamil Nadu and Kolkata Knight Riders mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy earned his maiden national call-up on the back of his stellar performances in the ongoing IPL. Varun is the only player with a five-wicket haul so far this season, and in all he is the highest wicket-taker for the Knight Riders with 12 strikes at an excellent economy rate of 7.05.

India’s premier allrounder Hardik Pandya is set to play his first limited-overs international since September 2019. Pandya has undergone a back surgery surge and he returned to action in the IPL though he hasn’t bowled yet this season. According to Zaheer Khan, Mumbai Indians’ director of cricket operations, Pandya was “very keen” to bowl, but the team management has adopted a cautious approach, using him as a specialist batsman.

In the absence of Sharma, KL Rahul, who is captaining Kings XI Punjab, has been named Virat Kohli’s deputy in both the white-ball squads. Rahul is the only wicketkeeper in the ODI squad while India have another wicketkeeping option in Sanju Samson for the T20Is.

Varun, who had turned 29 just before IPL 2020 just August, played only 11 T20s before Monday. However, he has seven variations in his repertoire, and his victims in the IPL include David Warner, MS Dhoni, Pant, and Shreyas Iyer. Varun had also been the second-highest wicket-taker in the 2018-19 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, with 22 scalps in nine matches at an economy rate of 4.23. However, a finger injury, sustained during his maiden IPL stint with the Kings XI Punjab in 2019, forced him out of action for more than a year.

Despite not playing any competitive cricket for a year, Dinesh Karthik, the former Knight Riders captain and the current Tamil Nadu white-ball captain, punted on him, with the Knight Riders shelling out INR 4 crore (USD 563,000 approx.) to get him on board. Varun has rewarded their faith, stepping up when Sunil Narine was placed on the IPL warning list, before his action was subsequently cleared. Varun’s Knight Riders team-mate Kuldeep Yadav was left out of the T20I squad, but was part of the ODI squad.

Ravindra Jadeja, who was the Chennai Super Kings’ finisher with the bat but struggled with the ball, was picked in both the white-ball squads over Axar Patel. Axar’s economy rate of 5.78 is the third best among bowlers who have bowled at least 25 overs this IPL. Under this condition, only Rashid Khan and Washington Sundar, who features in the T20I squad, have better economy rates.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will lead the seam attacks in both ODIs and T20Is. Fast bowler Navdeep Saini, who had suffered a split webbing in his bowling hand in the fixture against the Super Kings on Sunday, has been named in both squads well. Deepak Chahar is the fourth seamer in the T20I squad, with his Super Kings team-mate taking that spot in the ODI squad.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is currently nursing a thigh injury, will have to wait further for his international comeback. Kumar, who hasn’t played international cricket since December 2019, was set to make that comeback in the home ODI series against South Africa earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic struck and forced that series to be called off.

Karnataka and Kings XI’s Mayank Agarwal, who found a place in both sides, could be the back-up opener behind Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan. Punjab and Knight Riders’ Shubman Gill wasn’t selected in the T20I squad, but could be another opening option for the ODIs.

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Frank Thomas breaks down how Clayton Kershaw worked out of a fourth inning jam during World Series Game 5 using Samsung Galaxy 5G View app

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