Can Mizzou Finish Bowl Eligible?
Can Mizzou win six games? After seven straight bowl seasons, that’s a disheartening question to ask, but that is life in the SEC. Injuries to James Franklin and the offensive line have plagued this team since the second week of the season. We don’t know the extent of the injuries, but let’s look at the remaining schedule, and assign a winnability number to each on a scale of 1 to 10:
This game could get really ugly, really fast. That is not an indictment of Missouri’s talent, more a recognition of Alabama’s skill across the board. In the words of Gary Pinkel, Alabama “quite honestly has no weaknesses.” The Tigers’ Corbin Berkstresser-led offense will be lucky to get a field goal against the Crimson Tide’s first-team defense.
Kentucky is 1-4 overall (0-3 in the SEC), and is not a good football team. It ranks worse in total offense than Missouri, and gets outscored by an average of 9.8 points per game. Kentucky might not be quite as bad as you think, but it is still pretty bad. Mizzou should win this homecoming matchup.
When Mizzou plays on the road against a top five team, the results are rarely positive. Do not expect this game to be any different. Florida is not quite Alabama, but its defense is great and only allows 11.4 points per game. Expect the Gators to shut down the Mizzou offense even if Franklin returns.
If the Tigers are going to steal a road game, it will likely be here or against Texas A&M. The Vols rank in the bottom half of the NCAA in points allowed per game, and Missouri has the horses on defense to slow down Tennessee’s offense. The Vols are a good team though, and will be playing with a large advantage at Neyland Stadium.
In another must win home game, the Tigers will face an inferior opponent. Syracuse beat Pittsburgh by one point at home. If Missouri can’t beat Syracuse at home, it doesn’t deserve to go to a bowl.
@ Texas A&M
The Tigers could very well be playing for their bowl lives in this game. And their chances do not look good. A&M ranks in the top 15 in the nation in points for and points against; the team lost to Florida by three points. Mizzou has had recent success playing in College Station, and the team is more familiar with the Aggies than other SEC teams.
Two home wins (Kentucky and Syracuse) would bring Mizzou’s total to five. But they will have to steal a road game to reach six: either at Florida, Tennessee, or Texas A&M. I do not think Tigers fans can expect a win in any of these games. So what can we expect? A longer offseason than usual, some inconceivable football trash talk from Kansas fans, and way too many questions about whether or not Missouri belongs in the SEC.