Missouri returned home Saturday to play Power 5 school West Virginia after being upset in Laramie, Wyoming last weekend. Already facing a season without the possibility of a bowl game, unless an appeal to the NCAA overturns an earlier penalty, a loss for Missouri in this game could have turned things ugly quickly. A loss could leave players, and coaches alike, to wonder what they had left to play for this season. That was never an issue though since Missouri came out and played well from the opening kick. The season lives on after a 38-7 Missouri win over West Virginia.
The win gives Missouri its confidence and keeps its hopes alive for a successful season. The Tigers are still hoping to play in a bowl game if the appeal goes the way they hope. This game showed everyone (players, coaches and fans) that the team is capable of dominating a weaker opponent.
Player of the Game:
There were a lot of options for the player of the game in this one but I’m giving it to the Nick Bolton. Bolton had two interceptions in the game and returned one for a touchdown.
This game was so lopsided that the turning point had to be the Nick Bolton interception of an Austin Kendall pass setting up a Missouri touchdown drive. West Virginia moved the ball to the Missouri 38 on their second series before Nick Bolton picked off an Austin Kendall pass and returned it 18 yards. Three plays later the Tigers offense put the ball in the end zone to put Missouri up 10-0. The game was never within single digits after that.
The rest of the Missouri defense gets a good job this week. Missouri held Austin Kendall to just 137 yards passing and held the West Virginia running game to 30 yards. The defense also picked off three passes. The only points West Virginia was able to put on the scoreboard came late in the game after the Missouri defensive starters were on the bench.
QB Kelly Bryant was 17-for-25 for 150 yards passing and three touchdowns. Bryant only ran for five yards on ten carries but it was his feet that kept plays alive and let the wide receivers find an open spot in the defense and when they did he hit them with a pass. Bryant made some really nice passes including a touchdown to Albert O. for 26 yards down the sideline.
Albert O. had just two receptions for 42 yards but both were for touchdowns. Albert’s longest reception was a 26-yard catch down the sideline near the front corner of the end zone. He did a nice job reaching up and catching the ball over the defender while keeping one foot in bounds. His second touchdown was one in which he faked outside and cut in front of his defender for the reception in the end zone. When Albert gets the defender behind his back facing the quarterback it’s nearly impossible for a smaller defender to break up the throw.
The offensive line was terrific opening holes for Larry Rountree and Tyler Badie to run as well as giving Kelly Bryant plenty of time to find receivers down the field most of the day.
Room for Improvement:
Although penalties didn’t hurt the Tigers in this game, they will be a big factor in a close game. Missouri had ten penalties for 100 yards. The positive is that all of those penalties happened in this game and can hopefully be addressed before they cost the team a chance for a win.
Missouri hosts Ohio Valley school Southeast Missouri next Saturday in Columbia, Missouri. This should be another opportunity for the Tigers to work on their game before the conference season gets started on September 21 at home against South Carolina.