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Missouri will be good again one day. But this sucks.

Time for a group hug.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I understand Missouri’s schedule makers probably didn’t have a choice, and they probably knew the potential drawbacks at the time. But this is why you don’t schedule Middle Tennessee for Homecoming.

I could tell in some of the responses to my preview pieces this week, and I could really tell it while tailgating yesterday. My numbers had Mizzou projected to win by under 4 points with a 59% win probability, and that was with Michael Scherer and John Gibson. But you could tell there was some denial in the works. Yeah, they’re pretty good. Yeah, they’re going to test us. Respect, respect, respect. But ... we’re still going to win pretty easily, right? Right? Surely? Right?

(I include myself in this indictment, by the way. I talked a big game this week ... and then predicted Mizzou to win and cover. I am nothing if not a hedger.)

In terms of S&P+, Middle Tennessee has been significantly better than Kentucky and South Carolina this year and (because numbers can never be clean and easy) ranks well ahead of a Vanderbilt team that beat the Blue Raiders earlier in the year. But the reaction to losing to MTSU instead of Kentucky or South Carolina is always going to be worse. It’s Directional State! We should always be better than them! That is true. But it doesn’t always get to be the case.

When Scherer and Gibson got hurt early in the game, that pretty much evened the tables completely. And wow, was MTSU’s run game able to maliciously attack the hole in the lineup where Scherer would have been.

Throw in 10 points off of turnovers and seven points off of a bad punt snap, and Missouri was lucky to lose by only six.

MTSU’s a good team that made far fewer mistakes than the Tigers. And Mizzou’s got all sorts of questions to answer now.

Take all goals off of the table for now. Short-term and long-term.

Missouri still has bowl eligibility to play for. Of course it does. Kentucky maybe got a shot in the arm last night in a last-second win over Mississippi State, but the Wildcats still have been mostly bad this year. South Carolina has a solid defense and bad offense. Vanderbilt has a solid defense and bad offense. At best, two of those three teams are worse than MTSU. Plus, Arkansas entered yesterday’s game with three lucky wins (from a stat standpoint) and left yesterday’s game with a disturbing, massive loss to Auburn. And hell, Tennessee’s playing half its second string at the moment.

You need five wins from that pool, and while that’s obviously under 50 percent (even before we account for potential long-term injuries), it’s not completely off the table.

But as things currently stand, everything is off the table until Missouri figures out what it wants to be defensively. There are no goals beyond taking a deep breath and buckling down. The offense has plenty of issues, but it has youth to fall back on. The defense is not particularly young ... or at least, it wasn’t before losing Scherer and Gibson.

Ugh. I’m really sorry, Mike.

This sucks, guys.

This is Rock M Nation’s 10th season, its 10th school year as a Missouri blog. We got to celebrate 2007 and 2008 and 2010 and 2013 and 2014 (the good part) with you guys. We got to celebrate 2008-09 and 2011-12 in hoops, too. We’ve been around for a lot of amazing things, and as with any team site, this place is at its best with things to celebrate. That’s always going to be the case.

Most of the last two calendar years, however, have sucked.

The football team has lost its way. The basketball team has been at its lowest point in nearly 50 years. Protests and race issues split the fanbase into factions even beyond the factions that always exist in this silly state. Even softball, a perennial spring bright spot, got weird and dark this year.

We’ve had J’den Cox, and we’ve had the late-2014 football run. And the non-revenue sports have produced an overall level just about as high as they’ve ever reached. Still, most people care about football and basketball. And the combined output of those two teams is at its worst since, what, the end of the Don Faurot era (when Sparky Stalcup was also struggling)?

My mantra for this site has always been to drop the negative as quickly as possible and hold onto the positive like a kid with a stuffed animal. I’ve always strived to make my own unhealthy fanaticism as healthy as humanly possible. That gets you accused of “pumping sunshine” and whatnot, but whatever. If your quality of life is completely and totally dependent on your team’s last result, that’s your problem, not mine.

It’s hard to pump sunshine when it doesn’t really exist, though. And J’den Cox (and the volleyball team!) aside, the last year in particularly has been almost relentlessly negative. We’ve spent most of 2015 and 2016 reacting to one loss after another, not to mention an equally negative campaign season, massive divisions in the fan base, the fallout from a series of awful university hires, etc.

None of this any fun. But we’ll get through this all together, more or less. We’ll continue to hunt for positives to hold onto, and in the meantime, we’ll grind on through the negative results. You can say, “I’m done with this team!” if you want, and honestly, maybe that’s the healthy thing to do. Maybe it’s not bandwagonism as much as self-preservation (or budget preservation) if you look for other means of entertainment for a while. Some of my good friends have done just that. But they’ll be back when the results turn.

And the results will turn. At some point.

My secondary mantra over the last year has been “Mizzou will be good again one day.” Eventually the results will turn positive. Like a tide, that day begins to look closer than ever and then disappears far onto the horizon. But it’s out there somewhere. Remember how awful the 2003-05 window was? With Ricky Clemons and a crumbling basketball program and a football program that got traction and then lost it all over again? The 2007 football season wasn’t that far after the 2004 collapse. The amazing 2009 Elite Eight run was barely 12 months after Athenagate. It seemed like it could never get better, and then it got much, much better.

Mizzou will be good again one day. And we’ll celebrate together. In the meantime, we wait.