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Big Picture Takeaways: Defense Delivers in Most Important Game of the Season

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Massive win over South Carolina shows that this team is heading in the right direction

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

Kelly Bryant has beaten South Carolina for the final time in his career. Barry Odom has beaten South Carolina for the first time in his career. And for the first time since 2014, which happened to be against South Carolina – Missouri has won an SEC opener to start 1-0 in conference play.

In arguably the most important game of Barry Odom’s three-plus-year tenure as Mizzou’s head coach, the Tigers delivered a much-needed win with a 34-14 victory to grab the Mayor’s Cup.

It wasn’t pretty by any means, but Missouri did what they needed to do to get the win – which is all you can ask for in such a pivotal game.

My offensive player of the game: Kelly Bryant – 19/33, 227 yards, 2 TDs

My defensive player of the game: Ronnell Perkins – 100 yard INT return for a pick-six

Let’s look at some big picture takeaways.

This was a huge confidence booster

Let’s be clear, here – South Carolina is not a world beater, and Missouri was expected to take care of business in this game. Starting 1-0 in conference play has changed the complexion of this entire season, and there wasn’t a better way to do it against a team that has given the Tigers a lot of fits recently. This was a game Missouri needed to win if they wanted to be taken seriously among the top teams in the SEC East. Barry Odom and Missouri won the swing game and passed the litmus test, so it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

This was the defensive clinic we’ve been waiting for under Odom

“Probably as dominating of a performance defensively that I’ve been around, at least in some time,” Odom said in his post game press conference. The offense wasn’t anything spectacular on Saturday, and that’s okay— Missouri won this game with their defense, which stepped up in a big way. After throwing for 324 yards last week against Alabama, Mizzou held Ryan Hilinski to just 166 yards. A lot of that has to do with a true freshman making his first road start, but this was a promising performance that the Missouri defense can build on. Cale Garrett’s wacky fumble recovery in the end zone and Ronnell Perkins’ 100 yard-pick six were just huge momentum changes in this game. Through four games this season, Missouri has four defensive touchdowns; they had three defensive touchdowns all of last season.

Takeaways = victories, y’all.

Let’s take a look around the SEC East

South Carolina is 0-2, Kentucky is 0-2, Vanderbilt is 0-2, and Tennessee is a bright orange dumpster fire. There’s no reason that Missouri can’t finish at least in the top three in the SEC East. Missouri got started on the right foot with a convincing win on Saturday, and this victory should make fans start believing again. The goals for this season are still very much on the table, and this win was a huge start to proving that.

Maybe the bye week is coming at the wrong time, as Missouri is starting to hit their stride right now. Remember, Troy beat LSU in 2017 and Nebraska last season, and Barry Odom is 0-7 when preparing for an opponent for more than a week. This next one won’t exactly be a gimme.

October 5th is the next step for Missouri and Barry Odom.

For now, Saturday seemed like a huge step in the right direction. Beating South Carolina felt like a huge monkey off this team’s back.