There is a fine line between erasing a painful setback from your memory versus using it as a source of inspiration. 

The Missouri football team found a way to do both.

Two weeks removed from a loss at Wyoming that brought preseason hype to a harrowing halt, the Tigers earned their second straight victory with a 50-0 wallop of Southeast Missouri State on Saturday night.

MU enters its Southeastern Conference slate with a 2-1 record, rescuing its first three games after the lackluster start. Now the stage is set for a visit next Saturday afternoon from South Carolina, which the Tigers have never defeated in three tries under head coach Barry Odom.

This much is safe to say: Missouri possesses confidence far exceeding what it brought back from Laramie after the Week 1 dud.

“If you could, you could take that team and just throw it out,” senior defensive lineman Jordan Elliott said of the Tigers in their season opener. “We are a totally new team. We found ourselves through that loss and the sacrifices needed to grow.”

Missouri throttled FCS-level SEMO by putting 27 points on the board in the first nine minutes of its feel-good win Saturday. The Tigers gained more than 500 yards of total offense against its in-state opponents in the 500th game at Memorial Stadium.

MU has doubled down to surrender just 10 points in the last nine quarters combined, dating back to the final period at Wyoming. The only touchdown allowed during the span was last weekend against West Virginia in a game the Tigers otherwise dominated 38-7. 

“We’ve been more accurate to our true selves the past two weeks,” said senior linebacker Cale Garrett, who returned an interception 27 yards to the end zone in the first quarter against SEMO. “We’ve had a 0-0 mentality, approaching every drive as a new opportunity and being able to get takeaways too.”

Quarterback Kelly Bryant, who threw for 225 yards and a touchdown to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, said the Tigers have firmly put the Wyoming loss in the rear-view mirror.

Missouri turned the ball over just once the past two weeks combined after committing three turnovers in the season-opening loss.

“Definitely got to learn from any setbacks you have, but at the same time we’re going to move forward, and that’s what we’ve done,” said Bryant, whose lone blemish Saturday was a second-quarter interception on a floated pass to the end zone. “We’ve just gotta keep pushing and keep finding ways to be better.

“We can’t get complacent and be satisfied with where we’re at within these three weeks.”

The Tigers have played the past couple games with a larger chip on their shoulder than what it might have been had they managed to escape Wyoming with a victory.

Larry Rountree, for one, put that sense of urgency on display during Missouri's opening drive, when the running back accounted for all 85 yards en route to the first touchdown of the contest. Rountree finished with 142 yards rushing and two scores.

Richaud Floyd followed suit with an electrifying 71-yard punt return touchdown to help MU surge ahead.

Looking at the big picture, the opening loss at Wyoming may somehow influence this season in the Tigers' favor.

"We want to forget about it, but I think we’ll always have it in the back of our mind just to drive us forward," Garrett said.

In the meantime, the Tigers also let out their aggression with an array of hard hits that battered SEMO quarterback Daniel Santacaterina.

Elliott slammed the signal caller to the turf in the first quarter to set the tone. Santacaterina never looked the same.

The Redhawks were suffocated by the MU defense, finishing with nine three-and-outs and a school-record 14 punts.

“When you’re hitting the quarterback like that, it’s kind of like taking their will because that’s the heart of their offense,” Elliott said.

Having a healthy quarterback isn’t something Tiger fans should take for granted. Half the starting signal callers in the SEC East have suffered season-ending injuries.

Bryant is alive and well entering the matchup with South Carolina, but Gamecocks starter Jake Bentley joins Florida’s Feleipe Franks and Kentucky’s Terry Wilson in being out for the year, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the division race.

Even with their near-perfect win Saturday, the first three weeks of the Tigers’ season didn’t exactly go according to plan.

But the rest of the season still can.

“As soon as we feel like we’ve taken the next step, we know we’ve got a lot better yet to get," Odom said.

kgraeler@columbiatribune.com