When the 2018 Missouri football schedule was unveiled, it didn’t take long to notice a major roadblock in the second quarter of the season. National runner-up Georgia at home, followed by an away game at South Carolina, ending with a trip to the reigning National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. It was a safe bet that a 4-2 start would be the best-case scenario for the Tigers.
However, before the season started, Missouri had plenty of reason to believe it was destined for a breakthrough season when both star seniors Drew Lock and Terry Beckner Jr. decided to return to school, opting to wait a year before starting their NFL careers. As a result, a Heisman campaign was launched by the university for Lock after having broken the SEC single season touchdown pass record in 2017.
Cautious optimism was beginning to build for Mizzou fans despite the absence of a signature win in the Barry Odom era.
Fast-forward to present day and Missouri sits at the bottom of the SEC East at 0-3 in conference play and a 3-3 overall record. Impatient fans on social media are calling for Odom’s dismissal, Lock’s Heisman hopes have vanished, and Mizzou’s promising expectations for this season are hanging on by a thread.
Even with the disappointing stretch to start league play, the Tigers still have the opportunity to make 2018 special. Two of the next three opponents are in the Top 15 with #14 Kentucky visiting Columbia in two weeks followed with a trip to #11 Florida.
The offense has clearly not been the same without top wide receiver Emmanuel Hall due to a groin injury along with the sudden passing of his father back in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. The offense has lacked the big play ability that Hall has provided in the past, and without him, space for the emerging freshman Jalen Knox and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on the field hasn’t been as sufficient.
Now is not the time for Missouri to throw in the towel because a win over a ranked opponent would provide proof that Barry Odom is guiding the program in the right direction. If it hadn’t been for a 90-minute monsoon at South Carolina, odds are he’d be exactly where critics realistically thought this team would be after six contests.
Missouri ended the second half of the season on a six-game winning streak one year ago. If this team duplicates that feat, the program will have indeed made a significant leap forward under this coaching staff. That challenge starts this Saturday against a talented Memphis team who nearly upset #10 UCF a week ago.
Regardless of a tough losing streak, the Tigers have a shot at redemption. A win this weekend would only further solidify the chance of returning to the postseason.