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Back from the dead

We finally see the foundation for Barry Odom’s program in a 38-17 manhandling of No. 11 Florida

Missouri v Florida Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

I had a name but they took it from me;

I was the man that I wanted to be.

I had a place where I lay my head –

They burnt it to the ground and the sky turned red.

The Missouri redemption tour officially began on Saturday. It began with a comprehensive, dominating 38-17 win over No. 11 Florida. It began with Damarea Keener-Crockett Gator-Chompin’ in the endzone. It began with the return of Emanuel Hall.

It began with Drew Lock, swaggering all up and down the damn field, throwing three touchdown passes and looking good while doing it.

It began with Barry Odom, cold and calculated and not taking his foot off the gas pedal.

They took my life but it isn’t the end:

They put me in the ground but I’m back from the dead.

This is the game we were all waiting for. Missouri wasn’t supposed to be a contender in the SEC East this year – at least nothing more than a darkhorse, that back-handed compliment that maybe if everything goes your way, you’ll fall ass-backwards into Atlanta.

Things haven’t gone Missouri’s way. Plenty of that was self-inflicted.

There could be no half-measures for Odom and Lock in this game, another one against a ranked opponent. After a zero-second loss to Kentucky, this would either be a circle-the-drain game or an emerge-from-the-ashes game.

It was right to doubt Missouri at the time, a team that has not been able to get of its own way over the last three seasons.

But as Odom said in a brief post-game interview with the SEC Network, this game wouldn’t be decided during the week. It wouldn’t be decided by halftime either – another 11-point Missouri lead over a top-12 opponent. It wouldn’t be decided by the end of the third quarter, when Kyle Trask led Florida to a touchdown in his first drive after replacing benched starter Feleipe Franks, cutting Missouri’s lead to 35-17.

It was right to flinch there. We’d seen these types of games before.

We were wrong.

Lord knows I should be pushing daises;

I was six-feet down but something raised me up,

Sent back for to lift my curse –

I’m gonna get me a taste of some chaos first.

Missouri was as calm and calculated as it’s been in the last half-decade. This was a 2013 throw-back game. This was an offense, playing within itself and its game plan, using short passes and the run game to keep Florida guessing before hitting Todd Grantham’s blitz-heavy defense with haymakers in the second half.

The defense bullied Florida – an offensive jugger-naught – through 60 minutes, only letting up at the end of the third quarter with a back-up quarterback in the game.

Missouri out-gained Florida 471-323. Of those yards for the Gators, 157 came after Missouri led 35-10.

Missouri is 5-4 (1-4 SEC). This doesn’t completely erase the specter of poor performances in key games before this Saturday; yet, for the first time, there is the tangible evidence of a foundation.

Odom has talked about what he’s building before. We didn’t see it, beyond dominating bad opponents and certain in-game stretches against good ones.

It’s visible now. It’s visible in Missouri’s most impressive road win since Oct. 7, 2013, when the 25th-ranked Tigers beat seventh-ranked Georgia in Athens.

That game needed some gadget plays, some trickery to beat the Bulldogs.

This one didn’t need any smoke-and-mirrors. This was a dominating, impressive win.

There’s nothing left to play for, except everything. Missouri gets three games to close the season against teams in varying stages of disarray. It’s most challenging game is likely next week, at home against Vanderbilt. Tennessee struggled to beat Charlotte on Saturday; Arkansas is in complete rebuild mode under Chad Morris.

Three opportunities to end another year on a winning streak, only this one will mean more. Next year will be more of a proving ground, with talent gone on both sides of the ball.

But, finally, the foundation that Odom has talked about is visible in the wreckage of a top-15 ranked opponent.

They put me in the ground but I’m back from the dead.

(Song lyrics are from “The World Ender” by Lord Huron.)