COMING THIS WEEK
It’s an SEC-Big 12 showdown as the Tigers and Mountaineers complete a two-game agreement that started with the 2016 season opener, Barry Odom’s first game as MU’s head coach. West Virginia has since undergone a regime change, hiring former Troy coach Neal Brown to replace Dana Holgorsen, who left Morgantown, W.Va., for Houston. Brown, 39, was 35-16 in four seasons at Troy, his first head-coaching job. He previously served as the offensive coordinator at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky. He’s 1-3 as an assistant against Mizzou. WVU squeaked by FCS No. 2 James Madison 20-13 in Brown’s debut on Saturday. Under Brown, West Virginia runs a no-huddle spread offense and, like Mizzou, a 4-2-5 base defense. The Mountaineers moved from the Big East to the Big 12 in 2012 to fill Missouri’s void and have posted winning records in six of seven seasons since switching conferences. “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s pregame morning show featuring Paul Finebaum, Tim Tebow and others, will broadcast live from the Hearnes Center west lawn from 9 to 11 a.m. before Saturday’s game.
PLAYER TO WATCH
After losing Will Grier to the NFL, West Virginia followed the national trend and dipped into the graduate transfer quarterback market this offseason, landing former Oklahoma QB Austin Kendall, who left the Sooners shortly after they signed Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. Kendall, a former backup to OU Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, made his first career start Saturday against James Madison and completed 27 of 42 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
HE SAID IT
“The thing that sticks out is they threw the ball really well. They had a bunch of big plays. Kelly Bryant, for his first start at Missouri, did a really nice job. Wyoming offensively did a lot of motions and shifts and got numbers in the run game and were able to take advantage. Wyoming’s quarterback is a really, really good athlete. He can run and he broke some tackles. That was kind of the story of the game — that and Missouri turned the ball over. I think we’ll see a much different team in Columbia on Saturday.” — Brown on Mizzou’s loss to Wyoming
Missouri defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat (sprained elbow) didn’t practice Tuesday but will undergo further testing later this week. Odom said there’s an “outside chance” he could be in uniform Saturday. Backup linebacker Aubrey Miller is out indefinitely with a knee injury sustained at Wyoming. Slot receiver Dominic Gicinto (groin) returned to practice Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game. WVU running back Leddie Brown is questionable with a leg injury.
Saturday’s winner will break a 3-3 tie in the all-time series as WVU visits Columbia for the first time since 1994. The Tigers claimed the first two meetings in 1926 and 1927 followed by a two-game sweep by the Mountaineers in 1993 and 1994. The teams met again in the 1998 Insight.com Bowl, a 34-31 Mizzou victory that’s remembered as the final college game for star quarterback Corby Jones and running back Devin West. Tigers coach Barry Odom was a junior linebacker on that Missouri team. Skip ahead to 2016, and Odom’s first game as Missouri’s head coach came in Morgantown, a 26-11 WVU victory.