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Back on Track: A Different Missouri Team Shows Up Against West Virginia

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Missouri bounces back in their home-opener to avoid an 0-2 hole

West Virginia v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

For a Week 2 non-conference match up in a home opener, this was as close to a must-win as you can get. Missouri put themselves in that position by losing to Wyoming to start the season, but a convincing 38-7 win over West Virginia in Kelly Bryant’s home debut jumpstarted the all-important, five-game home stand on the right note. With this win, Missouri has avoided their first 0-2 start since 1996.

This was a completely different Mizzou team who showed up for the second game of the season— and the one that many were expecting to see.

And it’s almost like turnovers are a critical part of the game. When Missouri has a negative-three turnover differential, they can lose to anyone. When Missouri has a positive-three turnover differential, they can beat anyone. Okay— I know that’s true of basically any team in college football.

Offensive Player of the Game: Kelly Bryant. He did exactly what he needed to do and it was more than enough for the win. 15/27, 150 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly— zero turnovers. We’ll take that performance every Saturday, Kelly.

Defensive Player of the Game: Nick Bolton. With two interceptions and one that went for a pick-six, we’re starting to see the kind of potential he has.

Here are some main takeaways from this much needed win.

Missouri Responded in a Big Way:

West Virginia is in for a rebuilding year and they played pretty poorly, but any win over a Power-Five opponent and Big 12 foe after a season-opening loss gives everyone— the team and fans alike— a way to rid themselves of the bad taste leftover from the previous week. It’s frustrating when it seems like it always has to get to this point, but Barry Odom is at his best when having to respond after tough losses. “We’re defined by how we respond from every opportunity that we get,” Odom said in his post-game press conference.

This is What Missouri is Capable of:

Missouri has way more potential than what it showed against Wyoming— everybody knows that— but they needed to come out and prove it. They did just that on Saturday, and everything seemingly went according to plan. The only thing to really nitpick is the penalty issue— committing 10 penalties for 100 yards ain’t great, you guys, but in the end it didn’t really matter.

This is a dangerous Missouri team when they play to their full potential, and if they play like this consistently throughout the season, this team is going to be pretty tough to beat. How often they play to it is the question that remains to be seen.

Barry Odom is 20-20 through his first 40 games:

Interestingly enough, that is the same record that Gary Pinkel had through his first 40 games as Mizzou’s head coach. Now, I understand these aren’t exactly the same situations as Missouri is now playing in a different conference and different expectations surround the program, but it is worth pointing out. It takes time to build a college football program, and record-wise, Odom is on an identical path with Pinkel— which could bode well for Odom’s future.

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

Overall, this game was the best-case scenario in terms of rebounding after Wyoming. The Tigers took care of business and got out with the win as expected. It may take a while for the excitement of this season to legitimately build back up, but this was a strong start to make that happen.

Remember — Kelly Bryant came to Mizzou for a reason and the seniors didn’t transfer despite the bowl ban for a reason. This team, with their talent and character, has all the ingredients for what still can be a pretty damn good season.

“We’ve got a really good team, and we’re going to continue to push... We understand the formula that’s going to work for this football team,” Odom said.

That formula worked on Saturday. For now, the Tigers are back on track.