After Missouri’s script for how the season was supposed to unfold was ripped to shreds in its first game, a new one has emerged.

While the Tigers’ opening act was one of surprising defeat at Wyoming, they can only change what’s in front of them.

West Virginia comes to Faurot Field at 11 a.m. Saturday in what’s considered to be a must-win nonconference matchup for Missouri.

A loss would mean MU starts the season 0-2 for the first time since 1996. A loss in Austin to eighth-ranked Texas and a home defeat to Memphis started that fall campaign under Larry Smith, a year before the infamous Flea Kicker against Nebraska.

Falling to the Mountaineers also would mean the Tigers would enter Southeastern Conference play without a win over an FBS opponent.

While that happened in 2017 with South Carolina coming to Columbia in Week 2 after Missouri's win against Missouri State, this year’s edition would come to light in a more pain-staking way.

All of that because of a six-point loss where Missouri had a chance to win the game in the last minute against the Cowboys.

MU starts a five-game homestand against West Virginia, but without a win against the Big 12 foe, its revised script would be doomed, too.

“You look at 17- to 18- to 23-year old guys and you think you've got some things figured out with the pulse on how they're going to react,” Missouri head coach Barry Odom said Tuesday. “I mentioned I think standing here last week, the unknowns of game one, I thought I had a pretty good feel on how we would respond to some of those situations. And I was wrong.

“We didn't respond very well. But it's an opportunity for us to teach from it. I hate that we lost the game. I hate it more than anybody. It's awful. But you always are in a position to use those experiences moving forward on how you're going to respond again.”

The Tigers view their rush defense as one of the biggest keys to getting back on track.

Last season, Missouri ranked 58th in the FBS, allowing 159.6 rushing yards per game. MU let Wyoming run for 297 yards on its home turf, a higher total than the last-ranked rush defense from last year.

That means one of last year’s strengths, and one that was expected to help elevate the Tigers this season, already is being revised.

MU senior linebacker Cale Garrett, who finished the game against Wyoming with a career-high 16 tackles, said he can’t attribute the team performance to game rust.

“It’s easy to make that excuse, but at the end of the day, that’s what comes with the job, so we’re supposed to be able to do that regardless,” Garrett said. “I expect more out of myself and everybody else, too. We've got to be better and we will be better.

“We kind of got punched in the mouth last week. The expectation is to go out and kind of have a chip on our shoulder like we were supposed to this entire season.”

Even as a 14-point favorite, Missouri is a little cautious entering the game against West Virginia. It was favored by 18 points in Laramie.

The Tigers never reached more than a two-touchdown lead and played catch-up a majority of the time.

The deficit spawned from a disastrous second and third quarter where MU was outscored 34-3 combined. It’s a scoreline that Missouri hopes — more than anything — won’t define its season. The easiest way to put that to bed is taking down the Mountaineers.

“Guys are holding themselves accountable and we’re creating situations where we've got opportunities to be more physical in practice today and it was a good day,” Tigers defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said Tuesday. “We've just got to tackle better and have our eyes in the right spot and play the way that I know we can play. We’ll be alright.”

Big plays helped skyrocket the rushing total for Wyoming. In the second quarter, two early-drive plays went for long touchdowns.

A 61-yard rush from Xazavian Valladay and a 75-yard run from Sean Chambers acted as backbreakers for Missouri.

“Those two plays accounted for, like, half the yards,” Walters said. “So you give up those two plays and they're going to have a lot of yards. When you have those types of two explosive plays back-to-back, it's a killer.

“I don't want to overreact off of one outing and that being the first outing. I got to believe what my eyes have been telling me since the spring and the kids are still confident. They’re embarrassed, they are disappointed but they’re still confident. We've got a lot of football to play. It's a long season and we can make it right at 11 o’clock Saturday.”

It will be a challenge to gain all that momentum back in one day, especially against a Neal Brown-led offense.

Brown comes from the Mike Leach coaching tree, having served as Texas Tech and Kentucky’s offensive coordinator before coming the head coach at Troy and now West Virginia.

Despite what Brown called a “vanilla” game plan against James Madison, many think there’s more in the Mountaineers’ playbook.

Even with the pressure on MU to win against their opponent from Morgantown, Odom has decided to empower assistant coaches like Walters and defensive line coach Brick Haley instead of micromanagement.

“I’ve got a lot of trust in those guys,” Odom said of his defensive assistants. “They're really, really good coaches. The thing they don't need right now is me to step in and think I've got all the answers, because I don’t. We had pretty good calls the other night. We’ve got to go execute. ... We didn't get them ready to go play their best. They don't need me stepping in and saying, ‘This is what I think.’ They’re invested. They’re really, really good coaches and they're going to get it right.”

The Missouri defense is based on trust. Each player on the field is trained to believe that the other 10 will be in the correct position for them to have the best chance to stop WVU.

That philosophy hasn’t changed with the loss against Wyoming, and it could lead MU to victory against West Virginia.

“You can't control the past,” Walters said. “I can harp on it, obviously. ... These guys have been through adversity before, I’ve been through adversity before. Every time we’ve bounced back and done better.”