COLUMBIA — Missouri opens its season on the road Saturday for just the third time in 23 years, facing the Wyoming Cowboys at 6:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
That game will be played at an altitude of about 7,220 feet, considerably higher than Columbia's 758 feet of elevation. But other than a few dietary adjustments, including more beet juice, which helps increase blood flow and oxygenation and slows heart rate, the Tigers aren't too worried about the adjustment.
"It's overrated. It's overrated," said Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters, who is from Boulder, Colo., elevation 5,238 feet. "If you're a long-distance runner or something like that, I think it probably affects you a little more. I'm also a little biased, because I'm from Colorado, but having kids coming from California come in to play in Boulder, you get adjusted pretty quick."
"We've got to be aware of it, but we don't need to spend too much time on it," Missouri coach Barry Odom said.
But the best quote of the day came from — who else? — offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
"I mean, well, we can't fly into the mountains and train, you know what I mean?" he said. "I think it was Churchill, what did he say, 'When you fight and you're in the Nordic, you've got to train in the Nordic.' But we can't do that. We can't just take our team and go, 'Let's train in the altitude for a week.' It's only a problem if you make it a problem."
In 26 all-time road season openers, Missouri is 6-17-3, and has lost four straight, including Odom's first game as head coach, 26-11 at West Virginia.
The Tigers' last win on the road to begin a season was a 3-0 victory at No. 5 Notre Dame in 1978, when Odom was 2 years old. Missouri also lost at Illinois to start the 1984 and 1992 seasons. The Tigers did not start the season with a road opener between a 40-10 loss to Texas to start the 1996 season — the first year of the Big 12 — and 2016's trip to West Virginia, though the Tigers had a four-season deal with Illinois to play a neutral site season-opener at the former Edward Jones Dome from 2007-10 in St. Louis.
With a win Saturday, Odom can move his career winning percentage at Missouri above .500 for the second time in his career.
The Tigers are 19-19 under his leadership, and were 19-18 after beating Arkansas 38-0 at home last season before losing in the Liberty Bowl against Oklahoma State. Odom, who has a 10-14 record in conference, can get to .500 against SEC opponents if Missouri goes 6-2 this season.
Missouri and Arkansas announced Tuesday the 2020 edition of the Battle Line Rivalry will be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The game could be moved to Friday, Nov. 27, in order to preserve a national TV presence, but the game will not count toward Missouri's home season ticket packages.
Arkansas has already moved its next three home games in the rivalry, 2019, '21 and '23, from Fayetteville to Little Rock, an off-campus game that pleased some Razorback fans and rankled others.
"We are excited to bring the Tigers back to Kansas City for the 2020 Battle Line Rivalry game against Arkansas," Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement. "Kansas City has provided Mizzou Football and the University with outstanding support over the years, and we know our fans will make Arrowhead a home away from home for the Tigers when we take the field against the Razorbacks in 2020.
"We have been in discussion with the Chiefs for the last couple of years about bringing Mizzou back to Arrowhead, and we look forward to working with Mark Donovan, Jeremy Slavens and the rest of the Chiefs staff to make this game a huge success."
It is part of a two-game agreement with Arrowhead, with the second game to come by 2025. The opponent for the second game has not been announced. The game is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, and has been traditionally broadcast on CBS when played on a Friday.
Missouri has not played at Arrowhead since 2015 when the Tigers beat BYU 20-16 in an emotional game.
It following student protests and a hunger strike against racial injustice on campus to which the football players lent their support by declaring they would not take the field against BYU if demands were not met, and days after head coach Gary Pinkel announced his retirement at the end of the 2015 season to fight lymphoma.
The program is 6-2 all-time at Arrowhead, including a 4-1 record against former arch-rival Kansas. Missouri also defeated Arkansas State at Arrowhead in 2005 and lost in the 2008 Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma.
"We appreciate the Kansas City Chiefs organization working with us to help bring Mizzou back to Kansas City, and I know our fans will be excited to play in Arrowhead Stadium again," Odom said in the statement. "Allowing our kids the opportunity to play in one of the NFL's great stadiums is very valuable for their overall student-athlete experience at Mizzou, and having the chance to showcase our program around the state is important to us."
In an interview Tuesday with 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, Sterk said both Arkansas and Missouri wanted to move the game because of attendance issues that come with playing a game on campus the day after Thanksgiving.
Odom said Tuesday wide receiver Alex Ofodile and quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. are both no longer part of the team and were not at practice.
Ofodile told Odom Tuesday morning he was retiring from football. The former Rock Bridge standout spent three years at Oregon before transferring back home as a graduate student.
Ofodile, whose major was listed as English and Pre-Education at Oregon, has a Master's degree from Missouri in the School of Education, School and Counseling Psychology, and is working on another degree in his Master's program, Odom said. A tough offseason, which included his mother passing away from cancer, contributed to his decision.
"He's content with what his career ended up being, and there's always a point when you realize maybe you need to step away," Odom said.
Scott Jr. met with Odom several times during the weekend and is mulling a transfer. Scott entered fall camp not on the quarterback depth chart, and was beat out by Taylor Powell and Connor Bazelak for the second- and third-string spots.
"I don't want to lose anybody in our program, and these two guys, I don't like losing guys," Odom said. " Lindsay's been through a couple different schools and a transfer, and for him, the window of opportunity on what's left in his college career, he thought he's going to look at the opportunity to maybe go somewhere else."