Even if you win in a fashion you weren’t expecting or hoping for, at the end of the night, you still get to chalk up one more in the ‘W’ column.
Missouri fans, myself included tend to wallow in self-pity and pessimism due to years of heartbreak. To quote Kevin Malone (it’s 2018, if you don’t know who that is, for Christ’s sake, watch The Office), “It’s only human natural.”
But watching that game, I would think most Mizzou fans probably shared a few thoughts.
Why did the back of Purdue’s jerseys say Purdue? That’s a first grade soccer move. Nerds.
Mizzou’s jerseys looked good.
Drew Lock is good. Really good. To quote Kenny Powers (it’s 2018, if you don’t know who that is, for Christ’s sake watch Eastbound and Down), “Just a man with a mind for victory and an arm like a f*****g cannon.”
And the final thought, shit, we are going to lose this game.
The offense looked pretty good. The defense gave up almost 600 yards passing to someone who is not a full-time starter in an offense that was dominated by its ground game in their first two games.
When Purdue completed a pass that was perfectly defended and somehow bounced directly into the arms of a receiver for a 74-yard gain, that Missouri fanhood pessimism kicked in.
Shit, we’re going to find a way to lose this game.
But in the end, the offense found a way to bail us out, Tucker McCann kicked a chip shot field goal, and the Tigers escaped West Lafayette with a three-point win.
This was a much-needed win. When your next three games line up Georgia, at South Carolina, and at Alabama, getting that third win before playing Georgia was crucial for this season. It takes a little bit of pressure off. Worst case, after 7 weeks (including the bye week after Georgia), you are 3-3.
Now they can just go play.
National expectations aren’t high for beating Georgia. As of my last check, the line was Georgia -15.5. What do the Tigers have to lose?
Personally, I think the Tigers will have to get a few good bounces to pull off the upset. But they will also need the following.
The offense needs to lead the way. They had some success last season in Athens and the offense is clicking right now. To have a chance, Missouri is probably going to need to conservatively put 35 points on the board. At least.
The defense has to create some pressure. Purdue had all day to throw. I also thought our secondary got caught with their eyes in the backfield far too often on play-action passes in a game where Purdue rarely ran the ball. That’s scary, because Georgia actually will run the ball, which sets up their play-action passing game. Obviously, I won’t be expecting Missouri to shut Georgia out. But they can’t let Georgia do anything they want. Hold them to 35 or under, and I think you take your chances with the offense finding ways to score.
Win the turnover battle. Keep penalties to a minimum. Obvious things in a game against a team with superior talent.
One more note on the defense. When they have the opportunity to get off the field, they have to get off the field. Through three games, Georgia is 11th in the country in third down conversion percentage at 52.38% (Missouri is 10th at 52.78%, so we got that going for us, which is nice). You can’t let Georgia consistently convert in 3rd-and-long situations. If it’s 3rd-and-8, they need to find a way to get a stop and get off the field.
The Purdue game is over. It was ugly, but in the end, to quote Dominic Toretto (it’s 2018, if you don’t know who that is, for Christ’s sake watch The Fast and The Furious), “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning’s winning.”
The Tigers no longer have the Georgia game looming over them. Georgia week is here, and the Tigers are 3-0, just as they wanted, maybe needed to be.
Now all the Tigers can do is move forward and play like they have nothing to lose.
Because honestly, they don’t.