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A reminder that watching football can be fun

A lot happened yesterday, but all of it made watching football fun again.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the game, I was texting with BK and admitted I didn’t care if Mizzou won or not. The game at that point was marvelously entertaining, and Mizzou was going toe to toe with last year’s National Champions. “I stand by this season being dumb and don’t care about the results. I’m happy with them just being interesting,” was my exact quote.

In defense of the first part... the season is dumb. I’m glad it’s being played because I enjoy watching College Football, but let’s be honest here, it’s pretty absurd that we’re playing sports with COVID-19 still raging through the country, and taking out significant portions of the roster every week. The NCAA is also talking about just granting full immunity towards eligibility this year also, adding more dumb to the mix. So because the season is dumb, I don’t care about the results. I’m not sweating the win-loss record, I just want to watch entertaining football again.

Now a question, when was the last time Missouri won an interesting football game?

Think about it.

I’m not talking about beating a ranked opponent. Because that’s obviously Mizzou’s whipping of 11th ranked Florida in the Swamp in 2018. Maybe it was 2017, when a surging but flawed Missouri team beat Arkansas on a field goal with barely any time remaining? But I’m not sure a 6-5 team beating a 4-7 team in the last week of the season counts as being interesting. In 2016, Mizzou won a close game to cap the season against Arkansas, but that win got them to 4-8, and was the beginning of the end of Brett Bielema in Fayetteville.

You probably have to go back to 2014, when Missouri won a lot of close and tight games with defense and a methodical offense en route to winning their second straight SEC East title.

Beating the tar out of teams is fun, and Barry Odom’s Mizzou experiences were chalk full of throttlings of the opponent. It was either a blowout win, or a loss, sometimes close, sometimes not. Maybe the unpredictabiilty was fun for some, but likely the frustration of having such inconsistent performances wore us out. Even the first two weeks of this season were a bit of the same... sad, predictable ugly losses.

So you probably woke up yesterday and felt a lot like I did, happy to have something to do but not super excited to watch another ugly loss. Then the news hit that Mizzou would be out their starting Wide Receivers, and basically the interior defensive line. That feeling likely increased, at least it did for me.

I don’t know how many of you watched the AppleTV+ show Ted Lasso, but ever since I saw the promo for the show I thought Mizzou head coach Eli Drinkwitz seemed to have a lot in common with the title character, portrayed by Jason Sudeikis. He’s charming in kind of a cheeseball way, but it seems genuine and he’s really likable, even overcoming the cold skepticism of British soccer fans. They even have similar approaches to locker room celebrations. But in the last episode of the season, Lasso is faced with an overachieving team going up against a powerhouse, and he asks his team to give him any and all trick plays they have to possibly gain the advantage.

This felt like the approach early with LSU. Drinkwitz knows his team is less talented, and is having depth issues... so create chaos. He threw formations and motions and trick plays at LSU, and it worked. Ed Ogeron’s Tigers aren’t what they were last year; they’ve lost A LOT from that National Championship team. But they’re still really talented and have far more future NFL players than your Tigers. So for Drinkwitz to rally his guys, with a downsized roster, and find the guts to be competitive... it was just fun!

Mizzou got touchdowns from Tauskie Dove, Micah Wilson, and Niko Hea. They got big plays from Chance Luper and D’ionte Smith, and had a freshman quarterback throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. They ran a flea flicker and other such trickeration, and it worked some of the time. And while the defense wasn’t perfect, after giving up a 1-play 75 yard touchdown with 10 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, they gave up just 3 points on 187 yards and 34 plays.

Consider all this and then consider three Mizzou fumbles led to 17 LSU points, and a failed fake punt led to 7 more. The starting field position for LSU on those 4 possessions were the 47 yard line, the 25 yard line, the 31 yard line, and the 5 yard line.

LSU has some defensive issues to work out, and the Bo Pellini experiment may be going south in a hurry. But don’t let that take away from the fact that watching Mizzou play football yesterday was as much fun as we’ve had in a while. And in this crazy year, I’ll take a little bit of a fun, and a little bit of hope that this all might work out after all.

mizzou LSU football 2020 statbroadcast
mizzou LSU football 2020 statbroadcast

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