Mizzou must capitalize on golden opportunity

Not often in life are we afforded the opportunity for a mulligan. The chance to hit the rewind button and try something again. However, with many Mizzou fans still clinging to the Tigers’ week 1 loss at Wyoming, Saturday’s game against South Carolina could help erase these horrifying memories of games gone by.

Following two straight solid performances (including an impressive win over West Virginia) Missouri will look to reboot its season on Saturday when it plays host to the pesky Gamecocks of South Carolina. Yes, the same Gamecocks that have been a proverbial thorn in Mizzou’s side over the years, winning the last three games and going 5-2 against the Tigers since joining the SEC in 2012.

On paper, this appears to be an even matchup despite the Vegas odds showcasing Mizzou as the 9.5 point favorite. South Carolina freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinksi is the reigning SEC freshman of the week coming off of his 324 yard passing performance in a losing effort against Alabama. The Gamecocks (1-2) will, undoubtedly, be looking to salvage their own season from the doldrums, with the fear of slipping to 0-2 in SEC play with a bad loss to North Carolina already in the rearview.

Photo courtesy of the KC Star

“They’re really really talented in a lot of areas.” Head coach Barry Odom stated. We have our work cut out for us. Excited to play at home again and obviously it’s huge to open up SEC play.”

Odom, now in his fourth year at Mizzou, seems to be presented with an opportunity like this once a season. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, these type of games have been disastrous for Missouri throughout Odom’s tenure.

Who could forget the Georgia meltdown in 2016 or the letdown against these very Gamecocks back in 2017? In 2018, Odom’s Tigers seemed primed to take down top-10 Kentucky before a head-scratching ending took it all away. So…Here we go again. 57,000 fans showed up last Saturday for a a 50-0 win over SEMO and these folks are ready to erase the all too fresh memory of Wyoming’s shocking upset in week 1.

Mizzou QB Kelly Bryant exceeding expectations?

Let’s face it, Mizzou’s offensive success is largely predicated on the arm of grad-transfer Kelly Bryant. His nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns have him on pace for career highs yet his accomplishments seem to falling under the radar. His junior season at Clemson saw him amass only 13 touchdown passes and 2,800 yards. Clearly, he has demonstrated the ability to push the ball downfield with accuracy and his doing a tremendous job distributing the ball to a plethora of receiving targets. Perhaps we have yet to see Bryant showcase his running ability, however, his athleticism and escapability have been on full display through three games.

Predictions

Despite weather concerns, there should be a very solid crowd on hand for this key SEC East battle. The second place spot in the division is wide open and the winner of this game will have every chance to ascend to that position depending on what Florida does from here out. Should you continue to see marked improvement on the defensive side of the ball (including an actual pass rush) Missouri is going to have every opportunity to win this game with a balanced offensive game plan.

Prediction: Mizzou 34 South Carolina 31

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Author: Clint Switzer

Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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