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The important game which ended up a routine win

Missouri’s 34-14 win over South Carolina was an big step for Barry Odom and his program.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Admit it.

You were nervous before this game kicked off, and probably for a significant portion of the game.

I’ll admit it. I was. And not because I didn’t think Missouri was going to win. I did think they would win. But we’re conditioned slightly, as Mizzou fans, to expect something bad to happen when you’re beginning to feel good about things. And certainly the last few weeks had me, and likely most of you, beginning to feel pretty good about this team. So when was the gut punch going to happen?

Not this week!

South Carolina isn’t a bad football team. They’re also not a very good one. They ranked 27th in SP+ before the game against Missouri, while the Tigers were 12th. This is a game Mizzou should have won. We all earmarked it before the season. For the season to be a successful one, Barry Odom needed to thwart his apparent nemesis in Will Muschamp.

Muschamp heading into the game was 3-0 against Odom, and only last year was close. The Tigers were the better team and lost a year ago. They were the better team this year also, so naturally we were freaking out about this game.

But here’s the good news.

Offensively things felt rocky in the first half, but the Tigers still amassed 247 yards of offense to the Gamecocks’ 30. While Kelly Bryant wasn’t crisp on his passing early, he made enough plays with his legs to keep things churning.

Because it was Mizzou and South Carolina, there was still a lot of weirdness in the game. The Tigers’ first touchdown was one of the most bizarre plays I’ve ever seen, with a batted pass back to the quarterback resulting in a backwards pass from the quarterback into the end zone for a touchdown. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But in the end — after Ronnell Perkins snuffed out the Gamecocks’ last real opportunity to keep it a game — Mizzou was too much on both sides of the ball. By the end of the game they looked like the stronger, better team, which is how it usually happens. The win felt... inevitable. The 20 point win was routine. Maybe the 9.5 line from Vegas was probably closer to reality than the final score, but sometimes the game swings dictate different outcomes. As Perkins raced for a 100 yard INT return for a touchdown, it felt like that was it for the Gamecocks.

So the most fascinating aspect of this game was how inevitable it felt as things unfolded. Missouri fans, en masse, circled this game on the calendar for its importance to the season. And in the end it was routine. Barry Odom’s Tigers weren’t perfect, but they were better and more physical and they dominated the game. That feeling — the feeling of a routine win over a conference rival — is a big sign of growth for this program.

Now we get a week to take stock before the Troy game. It’s going to be difficult not to look down the schedule a bit the way Missouri has played the last three weeks. But things appear to be unfolding in a way where — if the Tigers can take advantage — they can really make this season a special one.

The Stats via StatBroadcast:

Other SEC Scores:

  • Alabama 49, Southern Miss 7
  • Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17
  • LSU 66 (!), Vanderbilt 38
  • Auburn 28, Texas A&M 20
  • Florida 34, Tennessee 3
  • California 28, Ole Miss 20
  • Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 13
  • San Jose State 31, Arkansas 24

Yesterday at Rock M Nation:

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