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Mizzou Football exemplifies the soft middle of College Football

Being a good but imperfect team means you’re in the same boat as about 30-40 teams.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Most of last week was spent trying to cool the white-hot anger from some corners of the Mizzou fanbase following Missouri’s disappointing loss to Wyoming. This week is not going to be spent boasting about being right about Barry Odom’s 2019 Tigers, but rather trying to find the happy middle ground.

First things first, West Virginia isn’t a good football team right now. They were 73rd in SP+ heading into the game against Missouri, and after watching them against Mizzou it wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up the worst team in the Big 12— yes even worse than THAT team to the west. The Mountaineers are in full on rebuild mode (though I love the Neal Brown hire, he’s got some remaking to do on both sides of the ball), and they’ve struggled at the start of the season.

With that said, Missouri did what they were supposed to do. They were dominant on both sides of the ball for the first half, and were happy to go into kill-the-clock mode when it became apparent any halftime wrinkles to the West Virginia offense were going to be ineffective against the Tigers defense.

It was a dominating win, and one which seemed to set things right

This is why the Odom tenure has been maddening for some fans. When Missouri is right, they’re VERY right. They’re capable of beating nearly anyone in college football when they play well. They have a tendency to utterly destroy bad teams, occasionally beat pretty good teams badly, but play uneven enough football during the season to drive you nuts. Because IF-ONLY they would be consistent, surely that would lead to 10-2 types of seasons instead of 7-6 or 8-5, right?

Not so fast.

It’s less about Missouri and their unevenness than it is about College Football in general. There are few elite coaches and elite programs. Instead, we get a big soft middle where a collection of good coaches, but not elite ones, and good programs, but not elite ones, battle it out and hope to get a few fortunate bounces. Last week Missouri got virtually zero fortune in their loss to Wyoming. Against West Virginia, they didn’t need fortune.

A case can be made to say they shouldn’t need fortune against Wyoming, and I think it’s fair to say that. But that’s College Football. Sometimes you need fortune. Yesterday, Michigan and Florida State were both fortunate... others weren’t. I think Missouri is good; I also think Barry Odom is at least a good coach who can maybe develop into a great one. But at this stage of his coaching career, with his talent on the team, Missouri needs fortune.

So it’s good to get back on the right side of the win-loss column. Watching the game was a reminder of what Missouri can be when they play well. And realistically, they didn’t play perfectly. They were sloppy with penalties, and they haven’t really shown a penchant for explosiveness out of the run game despite not playing against a defense considered stout against the run.

Where do we go from here? Next week should be a gimme— SEMO is an FCS school and one who shouldn’t come within four or five touchdowns of Missouri. Win next week and you’re concentrating on being 3-1 with a win against South Carolina at home.

Here are your other SEC scores:

  • Clemson 24, Texas A&M 10
  • Alabama 62, New Mexico State 10
  • Georgia 63, Murray State 17
  • LSU 45, Texas 38
  • Auburn 24, Tulane 6
  • Florida 45, UT-Martin 0
  • South Carolina 72, Charleston Southern 10
  • Purdue 42, Vanderbilt 24
  • Mississippi State 38, Southern Miss 15
  • BYU 29, Tennessee 26
  • Kentucky 38, Eastern Michigan 17
  • Ole Miss 31, Arkansas 17

Yesterday at Rock M

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