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Missouri stunned in loss to Wyoming

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It probably wasn’t the game the Tigers had circled on their calendars, but a surprising Cowboys team shocked Missouri as it fell to 0-1 to start the year.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

37-17.

That score — the amount Missouri was outscored by after the start of the second quarter Saturday — is what might keep this team from competing in the SEC East. The Tigers were projected to be a possible top two team in the division, and with a couple of strokes of luck, a possible division winner.

Not many outside of the program were even worried about the Week 1 matchup at Wyoming. After a 40-13 win in Columbia in 2018, it was seemingly a foregone conclusion that the Tigers would handle the Cowboys, even with the elevation that Laramie, Wyoming, brings.

Turns out, Wyoming shouldn’t have been overlooked. Missouri looked more like the 2016 version of the program than a team that could arguably pull out a 10-win season on Saturday as the Tigers fell to the Cowboys 37-31.

It all started like Missouri hoped it would.

The Tigers pulled off a 14-0 first quarter with a 144-28 total yard comparison. The offense looking like a well-oiled machine, with Kelly Bryant taking turns between using his arm and using his legs to take down Wyoming. Bryant, Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie all traded first downs on the drive before Bryant found Jonathan Nance from three yards out for the first touchdown of Missouri’s season.

After another quick three-and-out for the Cowboys, Bryant took to the air to move the Tigers down the field, and Rountree finished the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown.

Missouri was efficient offensively in the first quarter, but Bryant didn’t always look completely comfortable under center. Some hesitation in the pocket and a couple of overthrown passes showed it, and the Tigers’ entire second quarter exposed it.

Wyoming completely flipped the script in the quarter, outscoring Missouri 27-3 and putting up 17 straight points to start off. The Cowboys opened up with a 19-yard field goal to get themselves on the board, and then CJ Coldon returned a fumble by Bryant just four plays into the Tigers’ ensuing drive to make it a four point game.

Missouri then went three-and-out on its next drive, and Wyoming took just two plays to take a 17-14 lead on a 61-yard rushing touchdown by Xazavian Valladay. The Tigers were able to tie it up on a 22-yard field goal, but the Cowboys made it a 10-point game on a 75-yard rush from Sean Chambers and a field goal after Rountree fumbled at the goal line.

The second half didn’t start any better for Missouri. The Tigers threw together another efficient drive to open the half, moving the ball down to Wyoming’s two-yard line. Albert Okwuegbunam, who was pretty underutilized all game, seemingly cut the lead to three on a two-yard catch, but an offensive pass interference call and an interception on the ensuing play wiped away Missouri’s scoring opportunity.

Chambers once again led the Cowboys back down the field before Trey Smith capped off their drive with a one-yard touchdown, and another punt seemingly took the air out of the Tigers’ sail.

Richaud Floyd, though, breathed some life in Missouri’s attack.

Wyoming punted after Chambers opened the fourth with an incomplete pass, and Floyd returned it 43 yards to give Missouri solid field position (and one of its longest punt returns in years). After Bryant hit Okwuegbunam for a 12-yard gain later in the drive, Badie ran in a one-yard touchdown to make it a 34-24 game.

The defense then, for the first time in what felt like forever, forced a three-and-out and the Cowboys punted. The ball was pinned deep in the Tigers’ territory, though, and Missouri could only muster one yard on the drive before punting it right back to Wyoming.

From there, all the Tigers could do was tease the comeback.

After another field goal for the Cowboys, Bryant and Nance connected once again on a touchdown, this time for 53 yards, to cut the lead to six. Missouri then forced another punt and got the ball back with 2:19 to go.

Bryant was 5-for-6 on his first six passes of the drive to get the Tigers to Wyoming’s 20-yard line, but a sack and back-to-back incomplete passes ended Missouri’s night.