We are about to hit the midway point of the 2018 college football season, and the Missouri Tigers are currently 3-2, with a game coming up against the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide, a game in which most people (maybe rightfully so) are not giving the Tigers even a chance to win. So, assuming the Tigers fall to the Tide, Mizzou will drop to 3-3 after a 3-0 start. They have a less than favorable remaining schedule after Alabama as well, as the Tigers still have to face off against currently ranked teams in the Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators in the following few weeks.
They also have to play against a similar team to themselves in the Vanderbilt Commodores as well later on in November. Vandy is typically looked at as a ‘gimme’ game, but Vanderbilt is currently 3-3 and held their own against powerhouse Notre Dame just a few weeks ago. That game will by no means be an automatic win. In the outlook of the remaining schedule, barring any large upsets, Mizzou is looking to finish at most likely 7-5, which they would then be bowl eligible. But 7-5 is no impressive record, and it would be the fourth straight season that the team did not reach eight wins and the third straight year with the feat with Barry Odom as head coach.
Odom took control of the team before the 2016 season, after Mizzou coaching legend announced Gary Pinkel announced his retirement from coaching in November of 2015 due to his diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The Tigers did go 5-7 in Pinkel’s final year, but the two seasons prior to that they went 11-3 and 12-2 respectively, winning the SEC East division and making it to the SEC Championship game where they would fall in both cases to Alabama and Auburn. Despite a final lackluster season, Pinkel was leaving some rather big shoes to fill for Odom.
Odom is now in his third season as head coach of the Tigers, and the results thus far have been less than compelling. Odom is currently 14-16 (.466%) as the HC of Mizzou. A near .500 record for a coach in year three may not look that bad on paper, but the deeper stats are telling. The Tigers are an abysmal 6-12 in SEC conference play under Odom. The Tigers are also yet to pick up a win against a ranked team under Odom, as they are 0-5. That number may drastically increase, as the Tigers could potentially be playing three more ranked teams this season.
Apart from losing to Top 25 teams, the Tigers themselves have not been listed in the AP Top 25 once since Odom took over. Another troubling stat is that under Odom, the Tigers are below .500 (3-4) in games that have been decided by seven points or less. Since the beginning of the 2016 season, Mizzou has also gone 1-3 against non-conference Power 5 opponents.
If not for current QB Drew Lock, a Gary Pinkel era recruited player, Mizzou football may be in even worse shape than it is now, as Lock is an NFL talent and could see himself selected early in the draft next spring. Mizzou’s offense has done just fine this season, as they are averaging 39 points per game. But Mizzou’s downfall is their defense, whom Odom used to be the defensive coordinator of while Pinkel was head coach in 2015.
Mizzou’s defense is giving up an average of 28 points per game. That number is slightly skewed, as Mizzou allowing 14 points to UT Martin and 13 points to Wyoming to start the season really drug the average down. Over their last three games which have been against two SEC teams and another Power 5 team, the defense has allowed 117 points (39 average). With Mizzou pitted up against the likes of offenses such as Alabama this week and Florida and Kentucky to come, it may get even uglier.
So, Mizzou is practically relying on their offense to light up the scoreboard in order to win. It is not a formula of success to win football games, especially not in the SEC where the defenses are highly reputable. So, say at best that Mizzou finishes the likely 7-5, with an additional bowl game win bumping them to 8-5 best case scenario. Odom, after three seasons would be 19-19, an even .500 record.
The Mizzou community is growing uneasy, weary, and frustrated with Odom’s Missouri Tigers. The general fan consensus is that Mizzou football’s current downward trend is enough for Odom to be fired at the end of the season. But the administration may not be willing to give up on Odom yet, as they signed him to a contract extension last winter through the 2022 season. Odom will undoubtedly have to win some ballgames and ink some big-time recruits very fast while he is on the hot seat. Otherwise he could be out of a job sooner rather than later.