2010 Record: 10-3
2010 Bowl Result: Lost to Iowa 27-24 in Insight Bowl
2010 Against the Spread; 7-6
2010 over/under: 5-8
Returning Starters: 17 (9 offense, 8 defense)
Throughout August we are releasing pre-season previews for all the major college teams. Our College Football Handicappers are doing plenty of research to make sure we release winners every week during the upcoming season.
Last season, Missouri started off the season 7-0 including a 36-27 win over then #1 Oklahoma. However a two game losing streak to Nebraska and Texas Tech dropped them out of contention for the Big 12 North division title. They won their last three games but went to the Insight Bowl against Iowa, where the Tigers lost 27-24. This year Missouri returns 17 starters under Coach Gary Pinkel. The notable exception on offense is quarterback Blaine Gabbert who was a top ten NFL draft pick by the Jaguars.
Here is a look at Missouri’s offense, defense, special teams, and schedule.
Even with Gabbert the offense wasn’t as explosive as you would think. Missouri averaged 411.5 yards a game including 253.2 yards passing. Both ranked in the top 35 in the country but only 6th in the high octane Big 12. The rushing game averaged 158.2 yards per game which was 56th in the country. The Tigers scored 29.8 points a game which was #44 in the nation. The offense could be even better this season.
Quarterback James Franklin takes over for Gabbert. Franklin, a sophomore, threw only 14 passes last year in mop-up duty. He had a touchdown and an interception. Franklin also had 23 carries and 2 rushing touchdowns last year. Back-up Tyler Gabbert, Blaine’s little brother, left school in the summer to transfer to another school. That leaves sophomore Ashton Glaser as the back-up. Franklin will do fine in the system that has produced Chase Daniel, Brad Smith, and Blaine, all of whom are playing in the NFL right now. Experience could be an issue as Franklin gets his feet wet, but he is talented.
Missouri returns 4 of their top 5 rushers, except for Gabbert. Franklin has the legs to compensate for that loss. Senior De’Von Moore was the leading rusher last year with 99 carries for 517 yards and 8 touchdowns. Sophomore Henry Josey had 76 carries for 437 yards and 5 touchdowns. Junior Kendial Lawrence had 73 carries for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns. Sophomore Marcus Murphy had 22 carries, 281 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The top four receivers are back for the Tigers this year. Junior T.J. Moe will be playing on Sundays eventually. Last year he had 92 catches for 1,045 yards and 6 touchdowns. He had 12 runs and a touchdown last year off reverses as well. Senior Michael Egnew is one of the best tight ends in the country. He had 90 catches for 762 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jerrell Jackson had 50 catches, 656 yards, and 3 touchdowns last year. Senior Wes Kemp had 39 catches 420 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Those four had 271 of the 312 Missouri catches last season and accounted for all the receiving touchdowns. If any player can break into the rotation it will be L’Damian Washington who had 5 catches for 35 yards last year.
Missouri brings back 4 starters on the offensive line, with the notable exception being center Tim Barnes, an NFL caliber center. The line should still be dominant from the start at protecting the quarterback and opening up holes for the running game.
Missouri was the epitome of bend but don’t break defense last season. They gave up 357.9 yards a game including 154.5 rushing yards a game which was 60th in the country. The passing game was ranked #37 with 203.5 passing yards a game. However, Missouri only gave up 16.1 points per game which was ranked #6.
The defense returns 8 starters. The pass rush was #1 in the Big 12 last year but must replace Aldon Smith who is in the NFL now. Junior DE Brad Madison is the best player on the line. The Tigers struggled to stop the run last year and need to shore up that part of the defense.
Senior kicker Grant Ressel has only missed 3 kicks in his career. One of the nation’s top kickers, Ressel was 17-19 last year on field goals and 45 for 47 on field goals. His range is limited to 50 yards and in but that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Junior Trey Barrow takes over the punting duties and will handle kickoffs as well. He had two punts last year and both were inside the 20. Marcus Murphy will handle both kicks and punt returns, though the unit struggled last year.
Missouri’s non-conference schedule includes home games against Miami-(OH) and Western Illinois. They do have a tough road game at Arizona St, September 9. Late summer in Tempe the mercury can still reach over 100 degrees, so it will be an endurance test for the Tigers. In conference, Missouri gets Iowa St, Oklahoma St, Texas, Texas Tech, and has a neutral site game at Kansas City versus Kansas to close out the season. Missouri opens up conference play with a tough two game road trip to Norman to take on Oklahoma and to Manhattan to take on Kansas St. They have other conference road games against Texas A&M and Baylor. Missouri will get 9 or 10 wins this season.\
Missouri was 7-6 ATS last season including 5-3 at home and 2-3 on the road. The over/under was 5-8 last season including 4-4 at home and 1-4 on the road.
Game to Play Missouri
Last season Missouri was upset in Lubbock by Texas Tech 24-17, a game that cost the Tigers a berth in the final Big 12 Championship game. This year the Red Raiders come to Columbia and Missouri will be out for revenge. I like the Tigers to cover in that game.
Game to Play Against Missouri
Missouri opens conference play September 24 at pre-season #1 Oklahoma. Oklahoma has not lost at home since 2005, a span of 36 straight games. On top of that Missouri beat Oklahoma last year 36-27 in Columbia. The Sooners will cover at home this time.
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