For the first time in several weeks, Missouri faced an offense that didn’t crumble against its defense.

By rotating quarterbacks John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral, Mississippi presented the Tigers with perhaps their toughest challenge to date with multiple different schemes.

Yet Missouri’s defense provided a familiar stability the Tigers have come to expect in 2019 despite playing without Cale Garrett for the first time this season.

The wherewithal of the defense to bend but not break, combined with the offense posting 562 total yards, propelled Missouri to a 38-27 win over Ole Miss on Saturday night in front of a sellout Faurot Field homecoming crowd of 62,621.

The capacity attendance was Missouri’s first sellout since the South End Zone’s unveiling.

“All the things we continue to try to build this program on, I saw it tonight,” Missouri head coach Barry Odom said.

The victory completes a perfect record for Missouri in its five-game homestand as it improves to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

It is also the Tigers’ first win in an SEC West crossover game since 2014 against Texas A&M.

The Tigers didn’t end that drought easily as the Rebels (3-4, 2-2 SEC) had chances at a comeback, but Missouri’s defense shut the door.

“We spent a lot of time talking about that this week because we knew it was going to go down to the fourth quarter,” Odom said. “Our past games, they’ve kind of been over and we’ve been trying to run the clock out in the second half — and I’ll take that any time we can get it.

"But we also know the truth of what it's going to take to win down the stretch and we’re going to have to win on the last possession of the fourth quarter is usually how these things are going to go down.”

For the second straight game, Missouri allowed a touchdown before its offense touched the field. A muffed punt by Johnathon Johnson, who filled in because of an injury to usual punt returner Richaud Floyd, gave the ball back to Ole Miss deep into MU territory.

Ole Miss capitalized with a 21-yard pass from Plumlee to Scottie Phillips. The Rebels didn’t score again until the closing minutes of the third quarter.

Johnson finished as Missouri’s leading receiver in the game with eight catches for 110 yards. Those contributions were crucial to the Tigers moving the ball throughout the game, despite a second special-teams blunder when he called for a fair catch and consequently pinned the Tigers back at their own 2-yard line.

Turns out, that was the beginning of the game’s concluding drive as Missouri ran out the final six minutes of clock with 11 plays pushing the ball downfield.

“He had a huge performance,” Odom said of Johnson’s offensive snaps. “He’s a gritty player and he’s made a lot of plays for Mizzou over the years. Tonight was one of his biggest nights.”

Larry Rountree rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, while Kelly Bryant was 23 of 35 passing for 329 yards with a touchdown and interception.

Bryant played with a brace on his left leg for the first time in his playing career after suffering a left knee sprain against Troy last Saturday. Despite taking two hits that resulted in ejections because of targeting penalties, Bryant said he felt good.

“He didn’t miss a beat,” Odom said of Bryant. “It’s a little bit amazing to me that the injury that it was for him to come back and not miss a rep of practice. It says a lot about the type of person that he is. ... I don’t know that I’ve been around a tougher dude.”

“I said if I wasn’t 100%, I wasn’t going to go,” Bryant said.

Nick Bolton paced the MU defense by making 10 tackles. Cameron Wilkins, starting in Garrett’s spot, finished his first career collegiate start with six tackles.

Although it was the first time since Missouri’s season opener in Wyoming that the defense didn’t score, it made plays to keep Ole Miss points off the board when it mattered most.

The biggest example was late in the second quarter with a goal-line stand that held the Rebels out of the end zone as they had a chance to take the lead.

“If we score that right before half, even at the end with as bad as we played in the third quarter, that's a one-score game right there,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said of the play. “It had a huge effect on the game. But when you're on the road, you have to find a way to punch it in from 1 yard out.”

After allowing an average of 37 yards rushing in its previous four wins, Missouri gave up 204 yards on the ground to Ole Miss, down from the 400-plus the Rebels had last week in a win over Vanderbilt.

“I feel like sometimes, we've got to work (out) our fatigue a little bit,” MU safety Joshuah Bledsoe said. “But we stuck it out and dealt with it and played ball.”

Missouri hits the road for the first time since August for its next contest with a trip to Nashville to face Vanderbilt next Saturday.

Missouri will face the Commodores with sole possession of first place in the SEC East after Georgia and Florida both lost on Saturday, making MU the last-standing team in the division unbeaten in conference play.

The Tigers' next five games will all be against SEC East foes.