UPDATED, 10:15 p.m.
LARAMIE, Wyo. – In what was supposed to be Kelly Bryant’s grand debut as Missouri's one-year wonder at quarterback, the Wyoming Cowboys turned the Tigers into rodeo clowns Saturday night and planted their branding iron square on Mizzou with a scorching letter L.
Wyoming 37, Missouri 31.
This one’s going to sting for a bit.
Favored by 18 points against a Mountain West Conference team they steamrolled 40-13 last year in Columbia, the Tigers turned the ball over three times, wilted against Wyoming’s running game and might have squandered an offseason of goodwill that had fan enthusiasm at its highest in years.
Instead, it was the Wyoming fans who rushed the field at War Memorial Stadium and the Tigers (0-1) now limp home with their second loss to a team outside of the Power 5 conferences under Barry Odom, whose career record slips back under .500 with the loss.
In his first game since leaving Clemson last year, Bryant was everything the Tigers could have asked for as Drew Lock’s successor. He passed for a career-high 423 yards, threw two touchdowns and used his legs to extend plays outside the pocket. But he had two costly turnovers and didn’t get enough from his supporting cast.
Bryant led the Tigers as close as Wyoming’s 20-yard line in the final minute but got sacked on second down and misfired on his final two passes.
The Tigers showed some fourth-quarter pluck after a dreadful second quarter and falling behind 34-17. A 43-yard Richaud Floyd punt return set up a Tyler Badie touchdown. Then it was Bryant to Jonathan Nance for 53 yards, getting the Tigers back within a touchdown, 37-31 with 6:19 left.
But Mizzou’s jabs weren’t enough to overcome Wyoming’s early barrage of haymakers.
The second quarter was an absolute disaster for the Tigers, who watched the Cowboys explode for a 27-3 rampage before the break.
Four huge plays by the Cowboys, two on defense, two on offense, seemed to stun the Tigers into a stupor ... in a game Missouri led 14-0 before fans had settled into their seats at War Memorial Stadium.
After he led the Tigers to two early scores, the Bryant honeymoon went poof into the Laramie thin air when the Cowboys turned a Bryant fumble into a defensive touchdown. They nearly did it again just as the Tigers were about to even the score on the goal line. But Wyoming punched the ball loose from Larry Rountree just short of the end zone ... then nearly finished the half with a defensive touchdown. Alijah Halliburton scooped up the loose ball and sped the opposite direction as the clock turned to all zeroes. Bryant prevented a touchdown but drew a horse-collar penalty for dragging the Cowboy safety to the ground, giving Wyoming an untimed down to kick a field goal, good for a 10-point halftime lead.
The Tigers outgained Wyoming in total yardage 282-217 in the half and stopped the Cowboys on four of five third downs, but the two turnovers proved disastrous for the visitors. For the game, MU outgained Wyoming 537 to 389.
Missouri's defense did its share to put the Tigers in the second-quarter deficit. Suddenly unable to handle any misdirection in the backfield, Mizzou gave up consecutive touchdown runs of 61 and 75 yards by running back Xazavian Volladay and quarterback Sean Chambers, respectively.
On a day when two of Missouri’s SEC East Division peers started their seasons with upsets — South Carolina lost to North Carolina and Tennessee went down in a blaze of orange flames against Georgia State — Mizzou dominated this one early. With a decided advantage along the line of scrimmage, the Tigers marched to its first touchdown of the season without much resistance from Wyoming in the trenches. In his first Mizzou series, Bryant was every bit the dual threat the Tigers expected from the Clemson transfer. On and third and 2 in the red zone, he burst off the left corner on a read-option keeper and easily picked up 8 yards for a first down. Three players later, the graduate transfer connected with Mizzou’s other grad transfer, lofting a 3-yard touchdown to wideout Jonathan Nance. The Cowboys had Bryant corralled in the pocket but he calmly stepped through the carnage and found Nance for the score.
The Tigers kept their next possession alive with a fourth-and-1 conversion in their own territory then let Bryant carve through the Cowboys with the short passing game. He completed four straight throws on the drive, all for 10 yards or more. Rountree punched in his first touchdown to finish off the drive, good for a 14-0 lead.
Missouri’s defense held its ground early as the Cowboys didn’t earn their first first down until their third possession with 3:13 left in the opening quarter. Wyoming had a golden chance to cut the score in half early in the second quarter, but Chambers bounced pass what should have been an easy play-action touchdown pass from the 2-yard line. Wyoming settled for the field goal.
That’s when things started to unravel. Out of an empty backfield, Bryant attempted a draw up the middle – only to be form-tackled and stripped by safety Esaias Gandy deep in the backfield. Cornerback C.J. Coldon, from Belleville, Ill., snatched the ball off the turf and raced 30 yards to the end zone. Nance had a chance to take him to the ground but inexplicably tried to strip the ball instead, then backed off making any contact, the first of many regrettable plays on a night that might haunt the Tigers long after they return home.
The second quarter was an absolute disaster for the Missouri Tigers, who headed into the locker room trailing Wyoming 27-17. Four huge plays by the Cowboys, two on defense, two on offense, seemed to stun the Tigers into a stupor ... in a game Missouri led 14-0 before fans had settled into their seats at War Memorial Stadium.
After leading the Tigers to two early scores, the Kelly Bryant honeymoon went poof into the Laramie thin air when the Cowboys turned a Bryant fumble into a defensive touchdown. They nearly did it again just as the Tigers were about to even the score on the goal line. But Wyoming punched the ball loose from Larry Rountree just short of the end zone ... then nearly raced the length of the field in the final seconds before halftime. Alijah Halliburton scooped up the loose ball and sped the opposite direction as the clock turned to all zeroes. Bryant prevented a touchdown but drew a horse-collar penalty for dragging the Cowboy safety to the ground, giving Wyoming an untimed down to kick a field goal, good for a 10-point lead heading into halftime.
The Tigers outgained Wyoming in total yardage 282-217 in the half and stopped the Cowboys on four of five third downs, but the two turnovers proved disastrous for the visitors.
Missouri's defense did its share to put the Tigers in the second-quarter deficit. Suddenly unable to handle any misdirection in the backfield, Mizzou gave up consecutive touchdown runs of 61 and 75 yards by running back Xazavian Volladay and quarterback Sean Chambers, respectively. That's how an 18-point favorite falls behind by 10 points on the road.
The Bryant honeymoon ended with eight minutes left in the second quarter when, out of an empty backfield, he attempted a draw up the middle – only to be form-tackled and stripped by safety Esaias Gandy deep in the backfield. Cornerback C.J. Coldon snatched the ball off the turf and raced 30 yards to the end zone. Mizzou receiver Jonathan Nance had a chance to take him to the ground but tried to strip the ball instead, then backed off making any contact.
A feckless offensive series later, Wyoming got the ball back and went in front with a Xazavian Volladay 61-yard touchdown run through the teeth of the Missouri teeth. The running back was barely touched on his way through a completely empty secondary. The score put the Cowboys ahead 17-14.
Larry Rountree punched in his first touchdown of the season, a 2-yard burst off the left tackle in a short-yardage formation behind fullback Dawson Downing. Missouri's not getting much from Wyoming and take a 14-0 lead into the second quarter.
Bryant has been sharp in his Mizzou debut, completing 7 of his first 9 passes for 87 yards, plus 19 yards on the ground.
It was grad transfer to grad transfer for Missouri's first touchdown of the season. Kelly Bryant somehow avoided getting sacked on third and goal from the 3, stepped up in the pocket and lofted a pass to Jonathan Nance for the first points of the year. Barry Odom had called timeout as the Tigers lined up for the third down, and coming out of the timeout the offense nearly snapped the ball with only 10 players on the field, until slot receiver Barrett Banister ran on the field just in time. The drive covered 65 yards on 12 plays and chewed up 4:31 off the clock.
Bryant converted a third-down on a read-option keeper - a play the Tigers rarely used in that situation with Drew Lock at quarterback. Bryant picked up 8 yards off the corner on third and 3 inside the red zone.
LARAMIE, Wyo. - Greetings from the highest point in college football, Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium, where they'll let you know at every corner that you're 7,220 feet above sea level.
It's a clear, hot day here in the Equality State with temperatures in the 80s and expected to dip into the low 70s by evening. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. St. Louis time on CBS Sports Network. (That's not the same as CBS.)
The Tigers have arrived at War Memorial Stadium but have already had some road woes since Friday. The team's flight out of Columbia was delayed nearly several hours because the plane had a busted windshield wiper - not ideal during the afternoon showers that pelted Missouri. The team managed to arrange for a second plane with fully functional wipers and made it to Cheyenne Friday night. Then, this morning, a power outage throughout the city of Cheyenne knocked out the electricity at the team hotel in Cheyenne - about 45 minutes before Lee Corso and company made their picks on "College GameDay." Power came back on before the team boarded their bus for the 40-mile drive to Laramie.
Keep the refresh button handy throughout the evening for regular updates before and during the game.
The Tigers are wearing white jerseys and white pants with a new black-gold-black stripe down the side of the pants. MU's black helmets, with the oval Tiger head logo, also feature a new stripe gold stripe down the middle outlined in white.
Senior left tackle Yasir Durant will serve as MU's sixth game-day captain today, along with regular captains Kelly Bryant, Larry Rountree, Jordan Elliott, Cale Garrett and DeMarkus Acy.
A dozen true freshmen made the trip for Missouri. On offense, quarterback Connor Bazelak, running back Anthony Watkins, wide receiver Maurice Massey, tight end Niko Hea, offensive lineman Thalen Robinson. On defense, defensive linemen Darius Robinson and Isaiah McGuire, linebacker Devin Nicholson, cornerback Chris Shearin and safeties Stacy Brown, Jalani Williams and Martez Manuel.
A couple injured players aren't here in uniform today, as expected: linebacker Cameron Wilkins (knee) and defensvie end Trajan Jeffcoat (elbow).
Here were Mizzou's starters in pregame walkthroughs:
LT Yasir Durant
LG Larry Borom
C Trystan Colon-Castillo
RG Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms
RT Hyrin White
QB Kelly Bryant
RB Larry Rountree
WR Jalen Knox, Jonathan Nance, Johnathon Johnson
TE Albert Okwuegbunam
And the defensive starters:
DE Chris Turner, Jatorian Hansford
DT Jordan Elliott, Kobie Whiteside
LB Cale Garrett, Nick Bolton
S Khalil Oliver, Tyree Gillespie, Joshuah Bledsoe
CB DeMarkus Acy, Jarvis Ware