During the flight home from a frustrating 37-31 loss to unheralded Wyoming on Saturday night, Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant had to be thinking “every other team I’ve played for would have won that game.” That includes Clemson, high school and youth football.
Welcome to Tiger Land, Kelly.
Bryant threw for a career-high 423 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He added 20 yards rushing. That calculates to a 148.2 quarterback rating. Heisman Trophy here he comes.
He showed his athleticism on Mizzou’s first drive by avoiding a sack, scrambling and hitting Jonathan Nance with a 3-yard touchdown pass. Bryant’s first appearance ended with a 12-play, 65-yard drive for a TD.
The following drive, Bryant again showed his moxie by connecting on a pair of key third down passes, to Johnathon Johnson for 13 yards and Daniel Parker for 10 yards, respectively. The drive saw Bryant pass for 69 yards and it ended with Larry Roundtree crashing in from the 2-yard line for a touchdown – 14-0 Missouri. SEC Championship game, here they come.
With a Top 25 ranking assured with a victory, Missouri then went AWOL. The Tigers’ defense got run over the rest of the half and Wyoming surged to a 24-14 lead.
After the game, Bryant almost seemed to take all the blame.
“(I have to) look myself in the mirror and make sure I did everything I can do,” Bryant said.
“I’m just focused on how we can get better and win next week.”
Granted, his second quarter fumble was returned 30 yards for a touchdown to cut Mizzou’s lead to 14-10.
He also threw an unwise wobbler that was intercepted in Wyoming’s end zone to spoil another solid drive.
“I shouldn’t have done it,” Bryant said.
However, it wasn’t his fault that Roundtree fumbled away an almost sure touchdown with less than a minute in the second quarter. It was returned deep into Missouri territory before a hustling Bryant caught up with the defender.
Technically, the half was over but Bryant was penalized for a horse-collar tackle. The untimed down was used for a Wyoming field goal that stretched the lead to 27-17.
In my opinion, Bryant’s tackle didn’t cost the Tigers three points. It saved them four points because without his determination and hustle, Wyoming has its second defensive touchdown of the game.
“I was the only one that was close, so I just tried to stop him from scoring a touchdown,” he said.
It also wasn’t his fault Missouri’s defense turned into a sieve when it came to stopping Wyoming’s running game.
Wyoming had two players rush for more than 100 yards and 297 yards total rushing. The Tigers were a 16.5-point favorite at game time, and previews of the game gave the Cowboys little hope against Missouri’s defense.
Bryant could have had an even more spectacular debut if his receivers didn’t drop several passes.
“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot on both sides of the ball, stalling,” Bryant said.
“Got the red zone and we just didn’t put it in.”
West Virginia comes to Columbia for an 11 a.m. Saturday kickoff. The Mountaineers barely held off outmanned James Madison 20-13 in a game that was tied 10-10 after three quarters.
Bryant looks like the real deal. But he now realizes that crazy games can lead to bitter defeats for Missouri’s football program. He truly is a Tiger now.
Even with the upset loss at Wyoming, Mizzou could still challenge for the SEC East title.
Georgia blasted Vanderbilt – a team known for stout defense – 30-6. But the rest of the division looked awful over the past two weeks.
Florida was a turnover machine and narrowly escaped rebuilding Miami 24-20 on August 24.
In the shocker of the early season, Georgia State beat 25-point favorite Tennessee 38-30 on the road, leading Panthers coach Shawn Elliott to say, “we pushed them around.”
South Carolina lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels 24-20 in Charlotte. Mack Brown returned to lead a North Carolina team that won two games last year, brought a new staff with him and started a true freshman at quarterback – and still beat the Gamecocks. He also danced with his players in the locker room after the victory.
Kentucky managed to beat Toledo 38-24, but its rock-solid defense from 2018 has certainly changed. The Wildcats surrendered 246 passing yards and 176 rushing yards. This leaves them ranked 104th in the nation in yards per game defensively.
Selling out, selling shirts
I wonder if Colin Kaepernick was invited to the free concert in Grant Park before Thursday’s NFL opener between the Green Bay Packers and host Chicago Bears.
Meghan Trainor, Meek Mill, Rapsody, and DJ Pharris have been lined up by the NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to perform and, according to a release, “proceeds from the concert will be donated to social justice organizations.”
Trainor, Mill, and Rapsody have been named the first “Inspire Change Advocates” and Inspire Change apparel will be available for purchase later this year.
Here are some Twitter responses to this travesty:
“Those of us who criticized the Jay-Z and NFL partnership predicted this. Honestly, this is disgraceful. And if you think profits won’t go in the pockets of Jay Z and the NFL you’re a fool. How do you with a straight face ban Kaepernick then make money off of him?” Mike Freeman, former NFL player and Bleacher Report writer.
“The NFL is now profiting off of what Colin Kaepernick started while simultaneously blackballing him,” Steven Ruiz, NFL writer at For The Win and USA TODAY contributor.
“And now Jay Z selling social justice t-shirts? I'm exhausted,” actor Jeremy Bearimy.
“It’s wild that Jayz said it's time for action and then one of the actions is to sell apparel to fund programs when Kaepernick was already funding programs & orgs out of his own pockets,” Ryan Herring, The Ghetto Monk founder and editor-in-chief.
Concert goers should be ashamed to support this sham – or they should kneel the entire concert.
The Reid Roundup
Something isn’t right as the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals will clinch the National League Central before the teams meet the final week of the season at Busch Stadium … Cardinals coach Willie McGee should be on somebody’s possible managerial list when the offseason arrives. San Francisco Giants? ... When trailing 27-17 at halftime to underdog Wyoming, Mizzou coach Barry Odom said, “I don’t know that anyone hit the panic button at halftime. Very stern wake-up call.” Barry, your team wasn’t “woke.” … As of Tuesday morning, Ezekiel Elliott had not signed a contract and the Dallas Cowboys running back was not with the team. While winning helps sooth all wounds, Elliott will be surprised at the negative reaction he receives from Cowboys fans upon his return … Twenty players will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in conjunction with the NFL celebrating its 100th anniversary. This should mean former St. Louis Rams receiver Isaac Bruce finally receives his gold jacket … Pittsburgh visits Super Bowl champion New England on Sunday night. By the evening’s close, Ben Roethlisberger will regret helping chase Antonio Bryant out of town and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will be on the hot seat … Hurricane Dorian will leave behind heat and sticky humidity when the Kansas City Chiefs visit Jacksonville on Sunday. Super Bowl champion head coach and NBC commentator Tony Dungy says it will give the Jaguars an advantage … Kansas is 1-0 and Missouri is 0-1. I’m sorry Tigers fans, I couldn’t resist.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” Find him on Twitter at @aareid1.