Historically speaking, how important is starting 3-0?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Note: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Current performance may be lower or higher

than the performance data quoted

How important is it for Mizzou to get out to a fast-start? Obviously, getting as many non-conference wins as possible will only help your final record, but what does it truly mean for expected record?

Mizzou has started 3-0 or better 14 times since the end of the 2nd World War, with 9-0 being their best start (1960)

9-0: 1960, finished 10-1, Big 8 Champions

7-0: 2010, finished 10-3, 2nd in the Big 12 North

6-0: 1973, finished 7-4-1, 4th in the Big 8,

2006, finished 8-5, 2nd in the Big 12 North

5-0: 1969, finished 9-2, Big 8 Champions

1981, finished 8-4, 5th in Big 8

2007, finished 12-2, Won Big 12 North

2008, finished 10-4, Win Big 12 North

4-0: 2003, finished 8-5, 3rd in Big 12 North

2009, finished 8-5, 2nd in Big 12 North

3-0: 1967, finished 7-3, 4th in Big 8

1975, finished 6-5, 6th in Big 8

1979, finished 7-5, 4th in Big 8

1980, finished 8-4, 3rd in Big 8

Taking the average winning percentage of each undefeated start, I calculated the expected number of wins in a 12-game season, and if that number was above 6, I calculated a 13th game (Bowl). If it was above 10.5, I calculated 14 games (Conf Championship). My reasoning was that a 10-win season where we win all non-con means 6-2 in Conference, while an 11-win season means 7-1. 7-1 almost certainly wins the East, 6-2 probably doesn't.

3-0 start: 7.5 wins regular season, 8.1 including bowl (8-5)

4-0 start: 7.4 wins regular season, 8 including bowl (8-5)

5-0 start, 9.2 wins regular season, 9.9 including bowl (10-3)

6-0 start, 7.2 wins regular season, 7.8 wins including bowl (8-5)

7-0 start, 9.2 wins regular season, 10 wins including bowl (10-3)

9-0 start, 10.9 wins regular season, 12.7 including bowl and SECChamp (13-1, likely Nat'l Champs)

Obviously there are alot of problems with this. 1: This doesn't account for the fact that a better record means tougher bowl opponent, so reduced likelihood of winning that additional game. 7-0 and 9-0 have only happened once, so that skews the calculation, etc. Additionally, you'll notice that 3-0, 4-0, and 6-0 all end up with basically the same record. I suggest that's because the teams that start like that all were good enough to handle a weaker non-con and then run into a tough conference schedule that brings them back to reality. But still, in every case, we're looking at a bowl-eligible team, and on average, an 7 or 8+ win team.

Now, what happens if we start 2-0 and lose game #3? That has happened 8 times in Missouri history:

1961: Missouri finishes 7-2-1, 2nd in the Big 8. This one has an asterisk, because Missouri TIED game #3 and didn't actually lose until week 7.

1966, 6-3-1, 3rd in Big 8

1970, 5-6, 5th in Big 8

1982, 5-4-2, 5th in Big 8

1987, 5-6, 5th Big 8

1998, 8-4, 3rd Big 8 (Missouri had a great season, the only team that had fewer than 11 wins that Missouri lost to was 9-4 Nebraska)

1999, 4-7, 6th Big 12 North

2002, 5-7, 5th Big 12 North

Average finish, 6.27 wins, 6-6, no bowl.

Even with the 1961, 1966 and 1998 seasons Missouri still averages only a .500 season when they don't get that 3rd win.

We can't look past any opponent, buf Missouri wins tomorrow, it's probably pretty safe to assume a 4-0 start at minimum, putting us safely into 7-8 win territory minimum, vs. a disappointing 6-win season.

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