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Missouri Wyoming Football

Wyoming quarterback Sean Chambers leaps for a touchdown past Missouri defender Demarkus Acy in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. in Laramie, Wyo. (AP Photo/Michael Smith)

LARAMIE, Wyo. — A year ago Missouri couldn’t defend the pass but had one of the nation’s best defenses against the run.

The Tigers changed their stripes in Saturday’s opener at Wyoming, a stunning 37-31 defeat that’s sure to stoke concerns about a defense that can’t seem to get out of its own way. Wyoming ran the ball 42 times for 297 yards, and while 136 of those yards came on two plays, the Cowboys looked more physical along the line of scrimmage for long stretches. Against a Cowboys team that only bothers throwing the ball on occasion and instead relies on motion and misdirection plays to create mismatches in the running game, the Tigers looked bamboozled.

After stuffing the run consistently in the first quarter, Missouri’s defense buckled on a 61-yard touchdown run by Xazavian Valladay in the second quarter. The sophomore running back came through the line of scrimmage like a puff of smoke and was barely touched, other than a slight nudge by diving linebacker Cale Garrett near the line of scrimmage. It was a one-play possession.

The Cowboys weren’t close to finished. After a Missouri field goal, the Cowboys’ next offensive drive produced the same result. And again, all it took was one snap. Quarterback Sean Chambers kept the ball on another misdirection play, got past Garrett and then threw a nasty stiff-arm to the face of safety Joshua Bledsoe. By play’s end, Chambers was in the end zone on a 75-yard run. The crowd was ecstatic, the Missouri sideline was stunned.

“I think, number one, their quarterback is a good player,” Tigers coach Barry Odom said. “I took about three plays in the first half if I recall … a missed gap, a missed tackle … and I don’t want to put it on one guy with that. It’s team defense. We didn’t play very well.”

Chambers ripped off another long run on a touchdown drive in the third quarter, this time a 26-yard rumble down the sideline that helped set up a 1-yard run to double the Cowboys’ lead to 34-17.

REPLAYS WORK IN MU’S FAVOR

As bad as the second quarter went for Missouri, a couple replay reviews saved the Tigers from completely dismantling. On his first target of the season, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam dropped the ball over the middle, a play Wyoming wanted reviewed to see if it was indeed a fumble. If so, the Cowboys would have gained possession in Mizzou territory. After a lengthy review, the play was ruled an incomplete pass, the most fortunate drop of the All-American candidate’s career.

The Tigers got into the red zone on the drive and benefited from another call that could have gone either way by the officials. On third and goal from the 5, Kelly Bryant tried throwing over the middle but a Wyoming lineman spiked the ball into the air, right in the direction of teammate C.J. Coldon, who seemed to intercept the ball as he skidded on the turf. The officials initially ruled it an interception, but as soon as the play was shown on the stadium video board, Mizzou sent its field goal unit on the field — even though Wyoming had sent its offense on the field. After another lengthy review, the call was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass. Tucker McCann kicked the 22-yard field goal to tie the score at 17-17.

TIGER TALES

Three injured players didn’t make the trip: slot receiver Dominic Gicinto (groin), linebacker Cameron Wilkins (knee) and defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat (elbow). … Running back Tyler Badie shared the team lead with a career-high seven catches for 49 yards. Slot receiver Johnathon Johnson matched him with seven catches for 68 yards. Okwuegbunam led the Tigers with 72 receiving yards on three catches. … Badie also led MU with 53 rushing yards on 16 carries. … Garrett finished with a team-high 16 tackles.


Mizzou stunned by Wyoming

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