This is the first in a series of articles looking back at the last time WVU faced off against this season’s opponents. First up, is Missouri.
WVU 26, Missouri 11
Location: Morgantown, WV
Date: September 3, 2016
September 2016 seems like an eternity ago. In many ways, that year’s 26-11 WVU victory is a mirror image of this year’s contest as WVU heads to Columbia to complete the backend of a home-and-home series.
Coming into the 2016 season, Missouri was beginning a new era in Barry Odom’s first season following Gary Pinkel’s retirement at the end of the previous season due to health concerns while WVU entered the fourth year of the Dana Holgorsen era with high expectations following a strong 2015 campaign.
Many people expected a high-scoring, offensive football game. Instead, WVU and Missouri’s offenses struggled to score and despite respectable numbers drastically undershot the over.
After trading punts in the first few possessions, the WVU running game reeled off one of their longest drives of the season with an eleven play, 60 yard-drive capped off by Mike Molina booting at 19-yard chip shot through the uprights to take a 3-0 lead (that sound you hear is Kirchner blowing the RedZone Futility Horn). They would go on to add another 10 points through a 23 yard touchdown run from Rushel Shell III and a 26 yard Molina FG before Missouri finally got on the board with a field goal of their own from Tucker McCann.
At halftime, WVU led 13-3. They went on to score another 13 straight points on Missouri, including two more Molina FGs (the Red Zone futility horn was going strong that day) and a Jordan Crawford TD. Missouri added 8 points after a two-point conversion in garbage time on a short TD pass from Drew Lock to Chris Black.
Crawford and Shell combined for 191 yards on 37 carries. Skyler Howard added in another 35 yards along with 22 from Elijah Wellman as WVU wracked up over 240 yards on the ground. Howard was less sharp in the air, passing for 23-35 for 235 yards with an interception at the end of the second half. Daikiel Shorts led WVU receivers with 8 grabs for 131 yards.
Meanwhile for the Tigers, Drew Lock (who I am told finally graduated) piled up 280 yards on 23 of 51 passing with no interceptions and the aforementioned touchdown. Alex Ross led all rushers with 18 carries for 67 yards as Missouri put up a respectable 180 net yards on 47 attempts.
Player of the Game: Mike Molina, K
While WVU struggled in the Red Zone, Molina was a difference maker going 4-4 on FGs.
Significance: For WVU, though ugly at times, a win over an SEC school to open the season helped propel them on to finish 10-2 (7-2) in the Big XII before dropping a stinker in their bowl game against Miami, while Missouri struggled to a 4-8 season.
Trivia: The win marked the first time WVU had opened the season with a victory against a non-conference Power 5 opponent since joining the Big East 1991, having previously lost to Purdue, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Alabama.
Series Record: 3-3