With Mizzou’s season opener against Southeastern Louisiana just around the corner, let’s take a look at how the Tigers might fare game-by-game in their inaugural SEC season.
9/1/2012 - Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri
Although much of the anticipation for the Tigers' historic debut season in the SEC will be reserved for week 2 against the Georgia Bulldogs, there will undoubtedly be an electric atmosphere at Faurot Field for the season opener against SELA. Don’t expect much of a game here from the Lions, which like most early-season non-conference opponents, should be overwhelmed by the loud atmosphere and talent level that they may not experience the rest of the year. A clean, airtight performance here from the Tigers' defensive unit and offensive line would help to give Mizzou some confidence heading into its first SEC matchup.
Pay Attention To: James Franklin’s surgically repaired right shoulder. Reports from camp say that it is 100%, but if he can’t throw, the Tiger offense can’t go.
Prediction: Missouri 38, SELA 10 (1-0)
9/8/2012 - Georgia at Missouri
Remember the Oklahoma- Mizzou football game in 2010? We may be in for a repeat in the Tigers' inaugural SEC game. Despite College GameDay’s decision to set up camp in College Station for Texas A&M’s SEC debut against Florida, this prime time tilt will offer the same rowdy atmosphere and quality football, just with better uniforms. Ranked No. 6 nationally in the Coaches Poll, the Georgia Bulldogs come in as the obvious favorites. But “not so fast” is the general consensus that you’ll hear around Columbia. Georgia could literally be “not so fast” with the loss of 5-star RB Isaiah Crowell (kicked off team) and the suspensions of defensive starters Bacarri Rambo (First Team All-American safety), Alec Ogletree (52 tackles in 8 games as an inside linebacker), and Sanders Commings (starting CB). The absence of these defensive studs, especially Rambo’s safety position, will prove invaluable to the Tigers’ aerial attack. We could be in for an old-fashioned Big 12 shootout under the lights in Columbia!
Pay attention to: The Tigers’ O-line. This will be their first test against the dominant SEC defensive lines, and their performance may hold the Tigers’ success in the balance.
Prediction: Missouri 30, Georgia 28 (2-0)
9/15/2012 - Arizona State at Missouri
The Tigers will be looking for revenge after their gut-wrenching loss against the Sun Devils last season. With the graduation of QB Brock Osweiler and WR Aaron Pflugrad – both of whom burned Mizzou at key points during last year’s matchup – the Sun Devil’s offense figures to struggle, especially on the road. Expect the Tigers to take nothing lightly against a team that tarnished what would have otherwise been a pretty good season last year.
Pay attention to: The Tigers’ running game. After what will probably be an aerial assault launched against the Bulldogs, Offensive Coordinator David Yost will want to keep future defenses honest by implementing a potent run game.
Prediction: Missouri 27, ASU 17 (3-0)
Next: Missouri at South Carolina >
9/22/2012 - Missouri at South Carolina
The Battle for Columbia. It would have been a nice slogan to go along with a rivalry game if the two weren’t so far apart. This is a tough matchup for the Tigers. South Carolina’s defense is too sturdy, and Marcus Lattimore is a powerful man, the likes of which Missouri’s defense has never seen. If Mizzou can disrupt the Gamecock’s suspect passing game early while keeping 7 or 8 men in the box, it can give itself a chance to win this game. However, if Lattimore picks up where he left off in 2011 before his injury, the Tigers can forget about this one.
Pay attention to: How Missouri coaches handle play calls against a team that is clearly more talented. This will be a common occurrence for a few seasons until the Tigers become acclimated to SEC football. If Mizzou has a chance to win this game heading into the 4th quarter, give some credit to Gary Pinkel, David Yost, and defensive coordinator Dave Steckel.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Missouri 17 (3-1)
9/29/2012 - Missouri at Central Florida
Here is the classic trap game. After an emotional four weeks of football, the Mizzou team travels to Orlando to play a game that will be considerably less hyped than any of its previous match-ups. Toss in a team that isn’t half bad (UCF gave No. 20 Southern Mississippi a run for its money in a 30-29 loss last season), and you could have a recipe for disaster. The team will have to motivate itself to continue playing at a high level and do the dirty work down in Florida.
Pay attention to: Former Mizzou QB Tyler Gabbert. With the emergence of James Franklin last year, the brother of former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert left the Tigers program to join UCF on what appeared to be good terms. Still, if he wins the QB battle for the Knights this year, it's hard to see him not wanting some revenge.
Prediction: Missouri 28, UCF 17 (4-1)
10/6/2012 - Vanderbilt at Missouri
Vanderbilt, a school long considered a yawner in SEC football, has a very formidable team this year, and it would be foolish for anyone to write this off as a Missouri victory. Last year, the Commodores kept themselves close in games against Georgia, Arkansas, and Florida, but when it was all said and done, they were 2-6 against SEC opponents. Plus, they won only 1 road game last year. If the Missouri offense can play a sound game and limit the turnovers, the Tigers should keep the Commodores at bay.
Pay attention to: The Mizzou crowd. We have taken a lot of grief from SEC and Big 12 schools alike for our lack of fan support at games that aren’t premier. As displayed during the 2010 homecoming game, Mizzou fans can be some of the best in the nation. At the same time, they can be inconsistent, as shown during the 2011 homecoming against Iowa State that did not sell out.
(Also, pay attention to which team you’re rooting for! The Commodores away uniforms look pretty similar to Mizzou’s old jerseys!)
Prediction: Missouri 20, Vanderbilt 7 (5-1)
Next: Alabama at Missouri >
10/13/2012 - Alabama at Missouri
Welcome to the SEC! In what is sure to attract a stadium of maximum seating capacity and cheers of maximum lung capacity, the Tigers host powerhouse Alabama. If the Tigers are sitting with a 6-0 or 5-1 record, it could even be nationally televised. Despite the team's and the fans’ best efforts, nothing in Columbia, Missouri will stop the machine that is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama figures to reload its always-stocked defense, and unless the Crimson Tide shows a glaring weakness early, they will stifle the Tigers' run game and immediately make them a one-dimensional offense.
Pay attention to: Early strikes down field by Missouri. The coaches understand that the Tigers are massive underdogs in this game, and their hope will be to strike quick and early. Third-and-short bombs should be expected, and an early 7-0 lead could give the Tigers hope of an upset.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Missouri 10 (5-2)
10/27/2012 - Kentucky at Missouri
This may seem like a more exciting basketball matchup than football, but Mizzou's homecoming game may still prove to be of interest. It faces a conference bottom feeder in its Homecoming Game for the second consecutive year after trouncing Iowa State in 2011. Similar to Vanderbilt, Kentucky was a poor performing team on the road last year, going 0-5 in conference games away from Lexington. That may have had something to do with who it played – Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Georgia – but considering that none of the games were close (save for a nine-point loss to Georgia), it is safe to say that the Wildcats can be tamed away from home.
Pay attention to: The Tigers’ defense. This is a chance to compete against a weaker opponent, and the Tigers’ D should pounce on the opportunity. The defensive line needs to be able to generate pressure on the QB and stop the run at the point of attack if they want to be successful in their upcoming road games.
Prediction: Missouri 35, Kentucky 13 (6-2)
11/3/2012 - Missouri at Florida
Other than the obvious SEC opener against Georgia, this game is more exciting than any of the others. It is an intriguing game because it's possible we won’t really have an understanding of how good this team is until it travels to The Swamp, which is strange because it will be in the first week of November. With the exception of the Georgia game, most of Missouri’s schedule is fairly black and white in terms of wins and losses. Florida is traditionally a contender in the SEC East, and after its rough season last year, the Gators should bounce back and contend again this year. Both teams should come in with good records but still have much to prove. If the Tigers can get a win on the road in Gainesville, they will immediately gain the respect and attention of the SEC.
Pay attention to: How the Tigers respond to the crowd noise. They will have heard the away crowd roar against the Gamecocks earlier in the season, but The Swamp is notorious for its rowdy atmosphere. If Franklin and the offense can respond to the pressure and take a lead into halftime, they can control the tempo, and therefore the crowd noise, in the second half.
Prediction: Florida 24, Missouri 23 (6-3)
Next: Missouri at Tennessee >
11/10/2012 - Missouri at Tennessee
This matchup marks week 2 of the Tigers’ “SEC historic powerhouses trying to bounce back” tour. The Volunteers had exactly one victory in SEC play last year: a home win in overtime over 6-7 Vanderbilt. To make matters worse, they lost a week later at Kentucky, ending their streak of 26 straight victories over the Wildcats. What's with the hype around Tennessee QB Tyler Bray? The team was 1-3 in conference games when he was playing, losing to Florida, Georgia and Kentucky. WR Da’Rick Rogers could have given the Tigers problems, but he went and got himself dismissed from the team.
Pay attention to: The Missouri secondary. Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines have solid spots at the cornerback positions, but the constant flux of ineffective safeties last season cost the Tigers some big plays. With Bray having one of the better arms in the SEC, the secondary needs to step up and prevent the big plays.
Prediction: Missouri 23 Tennessee 17 (7-3)
11/17/2012 - Syracuse at Missouri
Another matchup that belongs more at Mizzou arena when basketball starts. Syracuse's success on the basketball court seems to be inversely related to its success on the football field. While the Tigers should win handily, we will know more about how the Orange stack up when we see them play South Florida on October 27th.
Pay attention to: Mizzou’s record at this point in comparison to other SEC teams. Going into the last week of the season, we will have a good idea as to how Missouri will finish up in the SEC East, and what bowl games they might be looking at.
Prediction: Missouri 28, Syracuse 6 (8-3)
11/24/2012 - Missouri at Texas A&M
The Tigers will play in College Station for a rare 3rd season in a row. The good news is that they have played remarkably well in each of their previous two trips there, winning both and scoring a combined 68 points. This visit will be different, however, as each team tries to prove that they are the superior of the new kids on the block. Don’t be surprised if this game receives national attention, especially if one or both teams have exceeded expectations in its first SEC season. The talent level leans towards Texas A&M due to its experience on defense, however there is just something about Kyle Field that makes Mizzou feel comfortable.
Pay attention to: The quarterback play. James Franklin is the clear starter for the Tigers, but the Aggies have a couple of candidates vying for their QB spot. History will tell you that teams with uncertainty at QB tend to struggle early in the season (i.e. Florida and Notre Dame last year). With any luck, those QB struggles persist throughout the year and Texas A&M’s passing attack suffers because of it.
Prediction: Miissouri 30, TAMU 24 in OT (9-3)
Check Out More Mizzou-Related News: Realistic Goals for Missouri in SEC