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Missouri’s only curse is self-inflicted

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It’s time to dispel a tired myth.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Missouri John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

I want to cut through all the nonsense arguments that will try and paint Missouri’s heart-breaking, 28-27 loss to Georgia on Faurot Field as some sort of curse which Tiger fans have inherited. Losses are not about north end zones or rock letters or Indian burial grounds no matter the convenient narrative persistently peddled to you. Missouri fans should relinquish their death-grip on the tired crutch as the only fanbase that has ever suffered a crushing loss; the sooner the better.

I wish I didn’t feel obligated to unravel the pretzeled logic that concludes one of Missouri’s end zones has it out for the Tigers and favors its opponents.

Never mind the touchdown and two-point conversion Missouri pulled off to defeat Arkansas two years ago to complete a six-game winning streak and a return trip to the SEC Championship Game. Did Missouri knock off #1 ranked Oklahoma in 2010 because they were facing south instead of north? In 2003 did Missouri break “the curse”, as the Mizzou Network implied earlier this week, because they were defending the north endzone in the fourth quarter? The same endzone Missouri was defending on Saturday?

Is the 50 yard line, where J’Mon fumbled, cursed? Where does it end?

The cornucopia of misery that is apparently Missouri’s sole claim to fame would remind me that both the Fleakicker and the Fifth Down happened in the North Endzone of Faurot Field, as if woe is magnetically attracted to those white-washed rocks. Not content to let the past go, fans and media alike recall these monikered misfortunes as if holding on to them is some badge of pride. Reveling in presumed doom is as much a pastime as tailgating and debating BBQ.

Please ignore the fact that one happened in the fourth loss of a 7-5 season and the other came two games after Indiana scored 58 points on a Tiger squad that ended up 4-7. Did Andrew Baggett’s kick off the upright cost them a trip to Atlanta? Did a loss to Indiana derail the Tigers’ return?

How much have these gut-punches really affected Missouri’s season?

All of that is a bromide for when the truth is unpalatable. Adjusted for the luck of a bouncing ball or deflected pass, players and coaches win or lose games via their athleticism, focus and preparation.

Explaining away disappointing losses with pithy platitudes is intellectually dishonest and plain boring.

It has become too easy to paint critiques as hot-tempered overreaction, concerns as wild invective, dissenting opinions as hot-take message board irrationality that typically devolves into petty back and forth. Questioning bad play or bad calls is met with canned responses like “you haven’t played the game” or “coaches know more”. We saw it just last night when Oklahoma was shellacked by Ohio State:

I guarantee every player and coach will admit, after a win or a loss, that they have things they can improve and things they can work on.

Missouri’s offense, specifically Drew Lock, has exceeded many’s expectations after 2015 and has evolved even in its first three games.

After Missouri’s loss to West Virginia to start the season, a disagreement about player reps between Barry Odom and Josh Heupel saw Drew Lock take the vast majority of the snaps in a win over Eastern Michigan -- perhaps even when Marvin Zanders was better suited situationally. And despite two previous interceptions, Lock saw every snap against Georgia, including a 15-play drive consisting of 14 runs (and one fourth-down conversion by Josh Augusta) only for it to end with an interception of a questionable pass on third and five from Georgia’s 18-yard line up 27-21 with 8 minutes left.

Perhaps that is this week’s memento mori moment for Mizzou’s offensive coordinator. When a defense holds a Heisman candidate in check despite three turnovers, reward them with more breathing room and kick the field goal to make it a two-score game. And when that defense manages to turn around and force a punt, still clinging to the lead despite being on the field for nearly twice as long as its counterpart, run the clock while you run the damn ball.

Otherwise you allow a freshman quarterback to lead a game-winning drive in his first true road start.

That’s how you end up being the one who is cursed.