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2021 Missouri Tigers: A Good Chance for 2nd in the East
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Missouri Tigers: A Good Chance for 2nd in the East

The Tigers have quietly become the 3rd best team in the East division and occasionally they are better than that. In fact, they have a chance to move up to 2nd in 2021 if things break right. They have their QB in place, a confident running back, and experience at receiver and the offensive line. The defense is capable. Missouri has to be more consistent and win games they are supposed to win. Coach Eli Drinkwitz is correct when he says they have got to get tougher and finish games better. And they have to fully believe they belong in the SEC.

Offense: Co-SEC Freshman of the Year Connor Bazelak finished 2020 with a 67.3% completion rate for 2,366 yards but had just 7 touchdowns along with 6 interceptions. They will look for continued growth from him as he gains experience. Tyler Badie says he can be the best running back in the SEC and he showed some promise last season but that is a pretty bold statement. Keke Chism and Tyler Knox are back with their 66 receptions along with Ohio State transfer Mookie Cooper. And the Tigers return 4 starters to the offensive line. Sounds like they could have a productive offense.

Defense: New coordinator Steve Wilks steps in and inherits a decent situation. The defensive line has three seniors who decided to return for the extra year they were granted and will join first-team All-SEC Trajan Jeffcoat. At linebacker, Nick Bolton departed for the NFL, but Devin Nicholson returns along with his 83 tackles last season.The secondary could be a trouble area but do return safety Martez Manuel and cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/4 Central Michigan

9/18 S.E. Missouri State

9/25 at Boston College

10/9 North Texas

This is a relatively easy schedule with the toughest game being a road test at Boston College. That game is certainly winnable and if they get that one on the win side, they should go 4-0.

Conference Schedule:

9/11 at Kentucky

10/2 Tennessee

10/16 Texas A&M

10/30 at Vanderbilt

11/6 at Georgia

11/13 South Carolina

11/20 Florida

11/27 at Arkansas

As SEC conference schedules go, this one is definitely doable. First of all there is no Alabama from the other division. That is always a good thing. The road games at Vanderbilt and Arkansas are against teams that figure in the lower part of their respective divisions. Those are must wins. The game at Kentucky is tricky with it being in week 2 of the season and the offense might not be clicking yet. But it is week 2 for Kentucky also so that is a poor excuse and they need to win that one. The other road test at Georgia might be for the East division title if things go Missouri’s way. The home games are more difficult. Tennessee and South Carolina are both struggling and they are must wins especially in Columbia. Then come the toughies against Texas A&M from the West division and Florida. If they win both of those it could be a special year.

Summary: The experience on offense, the potential for a good defense, and a favorable non-conference and conference schedule should give Missouri a chance to contend in the East division. They have to do something a lot of Missouri teams have done in the past and that is don’t slip up against lesser opponents. That is easier said than done.

Predicted Finish: 2nd Place in SEC East Division

Overall Record: 8-4

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