Let’s take stock. Did I really ride all those miles with friends across the beautiful nothingness of I-80 to watch a football game? Did I actually discover a fantastic college town in Wyoming, and climb up on a bar to get a picture with a mounted moose, and start an “M-I-Z” cheer from up there? And did Mizzou somehow lose to the Cowboys as a huge favorite, their biggest upset loss of this century?
To answer those questions… yes, hell yes, and (sighs heavily) yes.
As far as Mizzou football road trips go, this one was fairly unique. Instead of the old days of traveling across the plains to a Big 12 campus or the current opportunity to travel around the South supporting the Tigers, this was a trip to Laramie, Wyoming, with a football stadium that proudly lets you know it is located at 7,220 feet above sea level, the highest in Division I college football.
Why Wyoming? This was a game presumably scheduled when former Tiger assistant Dave Christensen was the head coach at Wyoming, but he’s no longer there. Apparently, unleashing an f-bomb laced tirade at the Air Force coach, who is also an Air Force veteran, punctuated by derisively calling him a “fly boy,” all spectacularly on Military Appreciation Night, is frowned upon. And in college football, losing seasons are even more frowned upon.
But the Cowboys have Craig Bohl now, a good coach, and Missouri fans still had their chance to experience a Mountain West gameday and weekend.
Tiger fans were all over downtown Laramie Friday night, and there were a lot of black-and-gold good times going on. Bars recommended by Laramie locals included the Buckhorn, which still has bullet holes in the mirror behind the bar and might make you think the Wild West days just ended, and the Speedgoat, which seems to think adding a lime wedge to cup of tequila makes it a margarita. Western people are tough.
Gameday brought more revelry. Pretty much every Wyoming fan I talked with said they expected Missouri to win, even going so far as to predict the exact score and request I buy them a drink if they got it right.
Then came the actual game at War Memorial Stadium, a gem of a college football venue. You know what happened. Wyoming ran out behind a very fired up horse. Missouri dominated early. Then a preposterous 34-3 Wyoming run. A parade of devastating turnovers. Sean Chambers and friends doing largely whatever they wanted. Missouri at last attempting a comeback, like someone finally setting their beer down and getting out of their chair after a spouse’s repeated calls for them to attend to a screaming child and/or small fire.
All of this played out framed by the eye-catching beauty of Wyoming, where nature is always part of the proceedings, from intermittent rain and rainbows to colorful sunsets and golden hour light on the mountains that frame the old stadium on either horizon. At the end, it was a growing wind, prompting me to literally hold onto my hat on Missouri’s final drive. (The hat was a cowboy hat, because I grew up on a farm and, you know, when in Wyoming.)
Of course, Missouri lost, and the epic 1978 3-0 win against Notre Dame and Joe Montana remains Missouri’s last win in a season-opening true road game.
Needless to say, the crushing loss took away a lot of this season’s excitement. And it made the long drive home feel even longer. But there was already another Saturday on the horizon, with the West Virginia Mountaineers coming to town. The loss at Wyoming will sting for a while, but in my experience, a tailgate and another college football game can improve my mood quite a bit