We had questions, and Sammy Stava at sister site Rock M Nation had answers for us about tomorrow’s game in Other Columbia. Here’s what he had to say about the Tigers and the Gamecocks:
Landing Kelly Bryant in the offseason was a huge win for Missouri after losing Drew Lock, and South Carolina fans are obviously familiar with his talent. Has this been a happy marriage so far, or is there room for improvement?
Mizzou won the sweepstakes for the best available graduate transfer quarterback at the time by landing Kelly Bryant. Bryant was basically Missouri’s only choice to replace Drew Lock in hopes for a huge season, because they just didn’t have any other experience at the quarterback position. The Bryant era started off with a dud in the loss to Wyoming, but he wasn’t the reason Missouri lost that game. Other than that disappointment, I think this has been a happy marriage so far because I think Missouri fans appreciate his character and leadership. Though there’s always room for improvement and the fan base is just waiting for Bryant to deliver on the big stage and win a big game. Maybe that comes on Saturday.
Like Will Muschamp, Barry Odom is in his fourth year with his program and has turned in some highlights, but has mostly seen middling results. Is his seat warm at all, or is the Mizzou fan base being patient with him?
Barry Odom’s seat is not warm, as it shouldn’t be. He has improved Missouri’s record every season from 4-8 to 7-6 to 8-5, which is want you want to see from a first-time College Football head coach in his first three seasons. In his first 40 games as Missouri’s head coach, Odom had the same record as Gary Pinkel (20-20). It takes a lot of time to build a College Football program, and this is what Odom is experiencing. I don’t think Mizzou fans are exactly being patient with him, because they’re expecting more after recently winning back-to-back SEC East titles – which is good because being in the SEC raises some expectations around the program. Odom has never beaten South Carolina and has never won an SEC opener, so Saturday will be a huge litmus test for this Missouri team and Odom.
With the postseason ban still lingering while the NCAA is doing NCAA things, what are the general expectations for Missouri this season?
My baseline expectation for this team was a 9-3 season, which was probably the main consensus with a lot of people surrounding the program. Anything beyond 10-2 or better would be considered the dream season. The main reason why expectations were so high for this season was because of the beneficial schedule, but that already took a hit with the loss to Wyoming. If the postseason sticks, I think expectations will be lowered, because the excitement just won’t be as high - because not playing for a bowl game, any bowl game would be kind of a letdown.
What concerns you the most about this game, and conversely, what makes you feel more confident about it?
What concerns me the most about this game is that South Carolina just has Missouri’s number by winning four straight meetings. It’s as simple as that. When a team has another team’s number, it gives them confidence knowing they can win, no matter the circumstances. Another thing that scares the crap out of me is Mizzou being 9.5 point favorites – no thanks to that! Though, I am confident in this game because South Carolina just played Alabama last week, and Missouri just played SEMO. Enough said there. I absolutely love Ryan Hilinski’s potential, but a true freshman making his first road start bodes well for Missouri, or at least it better.
Finally, care to make a prediction?
This is essentially a must-win game for both teams, making the desperation level for this game pretty high, which is good for the stakes in the SEC East division. Either way, it’s going to be a close game and come down to the wire. I’ll take Mizzou here with an extremely bold prediction – the Tigers win 23-21 on a game-winning field goal by Tucker McCann. Book it.
Thanks again to Sammy for his thoughtful answers, and be sure to look out for GABA’s input on Rock M Nation!