5 advantages Mizzou has against LSU
Going into the 2016 season, even the most optimistic Mizzou fans were probably chalking up Saturday’s game against LSU in Baton Rouge as a loss.
But with an improved offensive performance through four games and an opponent in turmoil, Missouri’s chances are greatly improved.
Beating LSU in a Death Valley night game still won’t be easy, but Mizzou is in a good position to pull off an upset.
Here are five advantages the Tigers have heading into Saturday night’s SEC East-West showdown:
Leonard Fournette might not play: Star RB Leonard Fournette’s status is uncertain, but even if the preseason Heisman favorite does suit up, he won’t be at 100 percent.
Yes, it would mean more for Mizzou’s season if the Tigers earned a victory against a Fournette-led LSU squad, but the Tigers certainly wouldn’t complain about not having to stop a healthy Fournette 30 times.
Luck is on Mizzou’s side, as St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Dave Matter noted on Twitter on Wednesday:
Missouri has a history of convenient absences by elite running backs: Adrian Peterson missed MU game in 2006; no Gurley for UGA in 2013, '14
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) September 28, 2016
It’s LSU’s first game under an interim coach: When LSU fired Les Miles on Sunday, it entered into an unfamiliar world.
The last time the Tigers had any turnover at the head coach position was when now-Alabama coach Nick Saban left Baton Rouge to coach the Miami Dolphins after the 2004 season.
Interim coach Ed Orgeron is a great college football coach and has experience taking over after a midseason firing (when USC fired Lane Kiffin in 2013) and had success. However, getting ready to play Mizzou on such short notice after such a major power shift will be incredibly difficult.
Even if it takes Coach O’s squad two quarters to get on the same page, Missouri might be too far ahead by that point.
LSU’s quarterback situation is somewhat unsettled: Though Marvin Zanders took some first-team snaps in the season opener at West Virginia, everyone knows Drew Lock is Missouri’s No. 1 quarterback.
The same can’t be said in Baton Rouge, where Purdue transfer Danny Etling has started recently after displacing Brandon Harris.
However, after the coaching change, it’s not exactly clear who will be the Tigers’ quarterback moving forward.
Coach O addressed the situation on Wednesday, saying Etling has earned the job:
O on #LSU starting QB competition change: "I think that Danny has earned his spot."
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) September 29, 2016
We’ll see how Coach O feels if Etling struggles early against a fairly stout Missouri defense.
Mizzou is extremely confident: Last week, the Tigers thrashed FCS opponent Delaware State 79-0, setting school records for points scored and margin of victory.
No, the Hornets aren’t in the same league as LSU, but seeing both sides of the ball perform so well has to give Mizzou confidence.
Drew Lock and his talented receivers are clicking, creating big plays in the passing game. Meanwhile, Ish Witter and Damarea Crockett have provided a spark on the ground.
LSU’s defense is better than any the Tigers have faced in 2016, but the Mizzou offense, on the other hand, is playing better than any offense LSU has faced this year.
LSU might be too amped up: After losing Miles on Sunday, LSU might come out pressing, trying to do too much in Coach O’s first game at the helm.
With Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron gone, there’s probably a sense of guilt among the Tigers’ players, who might feel at least partially responsible for the dismissal of two coaches.
That pressure could lead to some sloppy play early, which Mizzou can take advantage of.
We’ve seen how quickly the Tigers’ offense can strike. Several Missouri scoring drives have taken less than two minutes.
If Mizzou can take advantage of an overhyped LSU team making several early mistakes and take a 21-3 lead into halftime like Florida did against Tennessee last weekend, LSU doesn’t have the requisite firepower on offense (especially without Fournette, or a healthy Fournette) to mount such a large comeback.
LSU hosts Mizzou at 6:30 p.m. Central time on Saturday night. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.