That wasn’t just a signature win. That was a warning shot to all of the SEC.

Move a game nearly 800 miles and push up the start time 9 hours on just a few days’ notice and things are bound to get strange. The track meet hosted by Eli Drinkwitz in Columbia, however, was not an aberration. Missouri’s offense is here to stay.

Chalk it up to Bo Pelini, an inexperienced defense or a banged-up Derek Stingley, but any time a team hangs nearly 600 yards of offense on an opponent, it is doing something right.

Missouri’s 586 yards of offense were the most they have produced against an SEC opponent since November 2017, when Drew Lock and Co. dropped 696 yards on Arkansas. 

More impressive than the box score of Mizzou’s assault on the LSU defense was how it unfolded and the conditions the Tigers had to overcome.

There was trickery. There was motion. There were shifts and odd formations. All had to be orchestrated by a redshirt freshman QB making his first start of the season without three of his top five wide receivers due to COVID-19 contact tracing.

Not to mention, the special teams unit continually shot itself in the foot, and Missouri lost 3 fumbles resulting in 17 LSU points. 

Connor Bazelak finished 29-of-34 for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not bad for a kid who ran the wishbone in high school. Even better, he was sacked just once by an LSU defense that ranked 2nd in the SEC with 8 sacks entering Saturday.

Bazelak and Drinkwitz’s playcalling had Pelini’s defense out of sorts from the start. Missouri ran 2 flea-flickers on their first 3 drives. The first one connected with Tauskie Dove for a 58-yard touchdown strike, the first of Bazelak’s career.

The second just missed Daniel Parker for what would have been another easy score, but a simple Tyler Badie run straight through the heart of the LSU defense for a 29-yard touchdown kept the Missouri offense rolling with no evidence that it was about to stop.

Even when it wasn’t deceptive playcalling like Jalen Knox’s 16-yard scoring carry on a fake reverse, it was just simple, effective chunk plays that made LSU look like the teams that tried to slow Joe Burrow just a season ago.

Twice Bazelak connected on throws of more than 40 yards where the closest LSU defender was not even in the same zip code. No magic, just execution.

But it wasn’t on the shoulders of Missouri’s QB alone. As a team, the Tigers averaged 5.5 yards a carry. The 2018 version of Larry Rountree emerged. His 119 yards on 18 carries gave him 6.6 yards per carry, his highest against an SEC team in more than two years.

And that’s what seems to be the best thing going for Drinkwitz and his offense. There’s no defined identity for teams to key on. It’s not an Air Raid, but it’s also not a Gus Malzahn offense, a coach Drinkwitz learned under while at Arkansas State.

The first-year SEC head coach has a history of scheming whatever happens to fit the ingredients he has in the moment.

In 2018 as the coach at N.C. State, Drinkwitz had Ryan Finley throw more than 500 passes. Last year at Appalachian State, he fed running back Darrynton Evans 255 times, the 11th most in FBS.

Now that the Tigers have their QB going forward, after starting TCU transfer Shawn Robinson to no avail in Weeks 1 and 2, Drinkwitz knows what he’s cooking with. For an offense that ranked 95th in the nation last year, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Throw in a talented freshman kicker in Harrison Mevis to boot, and there’s no reason to think Drinkwitz can’t propel this offense into a top-40 force, something he has done with his teams in four of the past five seasons.

Obviously, the Tigers won’t compete with the conference big boys for some time, but for a program that beat one Top-25 team in its four seasons under Barry Odom, the fact that Drinkwitz already has his first in just three games is a promising start.

Mizzou rolls on to Vanderbilt next week, a prime opportunity to pick up back-to-back conference wins for the first time since 2018 and build momentum toward what could be another shootout in Florida.

The challenge ahead is steep, but for the first time since Lock, there appears to be a little firepower kindling in Mizzou.