COLUMBIA, Mo. — This wasn't the start Myles Brennan imagined.
The LSU quarterback didn't anticipate beginning his tenure as the program's starter under such turmoil. Who had the Tigers (1-2) losing two of their first three games in their title defense, both to unranked opponents?
Who, after all that departed from LSU's record-breaking offense a year ago, had the program's defense being the source of the Tigers' struggles?
Who, after Hurricane Delta blew an LSU home game into an away game at Missouri's Faurot Field, had the Tigers losing 45-41 and surrendering 586 offensive yards to a winless team?
"You only get stronger through adversity," Brennan said, "and I think we're going through some pretty adverse situations right now."
LSU fell out of the polls Sunday for the first time since 2017, which offers little recourse for a fan base that's endured a global pandemic and six major storms already this year.
A college football season that took historic efforts and protocols to even begin is so far one of the wildest campaigns in recent memory.
At least 12 FBS games have been either postponed or canceled because of coronavirus concerns, 12 ranked teams have been upset by unranked opponents and six top 10 teams have lost.
All of this, and the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences haven't even started their seasons yet.
LSU finds itself in trouble just three games into its 10-game, league-only season that was delayed almost a month from its original start date.
The Tigers appeared to have a favorable schedule when the conference reshuffled its games. Mississippi State and Missouri were both entering the season with new head coaches, and Vanderbilt, which finished 3-9 in 2019, revamped its entire coaching staff after its sixth losing season in a row.
Instead, LSU is tied for last in SEC West with Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
"The world's not perfect," wide receiver Terrace Marshall said. "You're going to have your good days. You're going to have your bad days. Today was just one of those days when Missouri came out and they just outplayed us."
Missouri (1-2) scored more points against LSU than it did in its losses to Alabama and Tennessee combined.
First-year coach Eli Drinkwitz's offense gained its yardage in huge chunks: 10 passing plays of over 15 yards, five rushes of over 10 yards. Missouri was efficient on first down, averaging 9.1 yards per play. Connor Bazelak, in his second career start, completed 29 of 34 passes for 406 yards and four touchdowns.
Receivers ran free, sometimes uncovered. Bazelak caught LSU by surprise on the first drive with a flea flicker that went for a 58-yard touchdown. Receiver Micah Wilson tied the game at 31 in the third quarter with a 41-yard touchdown catch completely uncovered.
LSU's defense had "one of those days" in the team's 44-34 Week 1 loss to Mississippi State, too, when the Bulldogs quarterback K.J Costello torched the Tigers secondary with a Southeastern Conference-record 623 yards passing.
Since then, Mississippi State's Air Raid attack has only produced 16 points in the two games since beating LSU, and Costello has thrown a pick-six in every game and leads the nation with nine interceptions.
Missouri also dominated offensively against an LSU defense that had all of its starters available.
Starting defensive tackle Glen Logan, back after missing two games for undisclosed reasons, was at the front line of a four-man front that gave up 180 yards rushing, two touchdowns on the ground and 5.5 yards per carry.
All-American cornerback Derek Stingley, who missed the Mississippi State game due to an illness, played in his second straight game opposite true freshman Eli Ricks, and the secondary still had familiar busts that left wide receivers wide open.
"A lot of it was miscommunication," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
A cornerback and safety would make a call, Orgeron said, and the play wouldn't get translated across the defense. Sometimes the corner would play a different coverage than the rest of the secondary.
This appeared to happen in the third quarter, when Wilson, split to the far sideline, ran past both Ricks and safety Todd Harris for his easy touchdown catch.
There wasn't just miscommunication with the corners, Orgeron said. It was the safeties, too. The linebackers.
"That's happened to us twice now," Orgeron said. "We've really got to look at what we're doing. We've got to do some soul-searching. And we've got to eliminate that."
Even the turnovers — yes, those disruptions Orgeron wanted so intently in this defensive move, have not been able to overcome the defense's struggles.
LSU lost to both Missouri and Mississippi State despite winning the turnover margin. Before this season, the Tigers were 26-2 under Orgeron when they forced more turnovers than they surrendered.
And were it not for the team's three lost fumbles, which produced 17 LSU points, the visiting Tigers likely would not even have had a chance to win the game at the end.
Brennan's attempt at his first game-winning drive was thwarted on the goal line, and the quarterback revealed more details about the problems that restricted a score.
With 5:18 remaining, Brennan completed six passes for 67 yards and reached the Missouri 1-yard line on a 13-yard lob to Marshall, who fell out of bounds just shy of the left pylon.
Two Ty Davis-Price runs were stuffed for no gain, and two Brennan attempts to Marshall were both deflected incomplete.
LSU attempted play action on the first pass, hoping to free up Marshall on the left flat. Brennan said Missouri didn't bite on the fake and had one extra defender playing pass than LSU had to block. Linebacker Nick Bolton stood directly between Brennan and Marshall and swatted the pass.
Brennan bootlegged right on the second, and safety Joshuah Bledsoe blanketed Marshall the whole way. Brennan said Bledsoe was sitting on the route from the beginning, and his pass attempt toward the right pylon still was dislodged from Marshall's hands.
LSU ranks 46th nationally in red-zone scoring with a 81.82% conversion rate, a substantial dip from its second-ranked 96% rate of scoring within the opponent's 25 in 2019.
LSU also failed to convert on any of its 10 third-down attempts against Missouri.
Problems are piling up for the Tigers, who are entering a tougher portion of their season. In the next three weeks, LSU plays at Florida (2-1), hosts South Carolina (1-2) and travels to Auburn (2-1) before its open date that precedes its home game against No. 2 Alabama (3-0).
"We're gonna fight, and we're gonna keep fighting week to week," Brennan said. "We're gonna get into the meeting room and the film room. We're going to fix the things we need to fix. We're going to stick together as a team and we're gonna move forward. That's how it's going to go."