Ranking Missouri’s schedule: weak links
As we anticipate the kickoff of the 2014 season later this month, here’s one man’s view on Missouri’s schedule, presented to you from easiest to toughest.
Today we clump together the bottom three games, because, let’s face it, no one wants to read an entire article on South Dakota State vs. Missouri before game week.
Here are the easiest three games on the Tigers’ schedule this season.
12. vs. South Dakota State
Not to be confused with the perennial FBS slayers to the North, the Jackrabbits still are a clear playoff contender in the FCS. It’s just hard to justify ranking South Dakota State as tougher than, say, Arkansas, which needed the fourth quarter to put away 2013 FCS playoff team Samford.
Still, run defense figures to be a potential soft spot for Missouri, especially early in the season. Senior running back Zach Zenner is gunning for a third 2,000-yard season. But Missouri’s advantage along the line of scrimmage will be too great.
11. vs. Kentucky
The Wildcats should be excited due to the relatively brilliant Top 25 recruiting class, Mark Stoops’ track record of improving defenses and plenty of returning parts on both sides of the football.
After losing three games by single digits in 2013, Kentucky is selling its fans that a breakthrough is coming. An influx of talent as well as experience along the offensive line and at wideout shouldn’t equate the 2014 Wildcats to Neal Brown’s offenses at Texas Tech, but expect an improvement from the nation’s No. 98 pass offense.
This is not a guaranteed win, but it’s close. It would take something going very wrong in Columbia for the Tigers to lose this one.
10. vs. Arkansas
Bret Bielema’s time so far in the SEC has been a joke. Between last year’s winless conference slate, his wife’s infamous “karma” tweet and the extreme mud-on-his-face pace-of-play arguments, Bielema’s at least made headlines. But the Razorbacks get the nod over Kentucky because they do have decent football resources, and because Bielema did manage to direct Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances before departing for
the challenge of the SEC SEC money.
Also, Arkansas is run-heavy (see: South Dakota State). Its offense should be halfway decent, though that’s not enough to make headway in the terrifying SEC West.