By: Sammy Stava
After the first six weeks of the 2018 season, the Missouri Tigers currently sit at 3-3 (0-3 SEC), and being realistic, that’s what almost everybody thought they would be at this point, with the exception of one game.
So far, Missouri has done almost everything they have needed to do, taking care of business with wins over UT-Martin (51-14), Wyoming (40-13), and at Purdue (40-37). And two of their three losses came as expected, to No. 1 Alabama (39-10) and at the time, No. 2 Georgia (43-29).
The only true blemish on their schedule was a 37-35 road loss to South Carolina against the Gamecocks’ backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia. In a game where Missouri looked like the better team, that was one they couldn’t afford to lose.
Though, the Tigers must forget about that game, because, overall, they have still set themselves up well for a potential successful second half of the season despite a .500 record and a winless mark in the SEC.
After Missouri started 1-5 last year, the Tigers ran the table in the second half of last season with wins over Idaho, UConn, Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas. Similar to 2017, the Tigers have a non-conference contest and four of those same SEC teams in the second half of the season. The only problem is the schedule is a lot tougher.
Up next: vs Memphis (October 20th) – Memphis 4-3 (1-3 AAC), just lost to undefeated and No. 10 UCF 31-30 after leading 30-14. After such a tough loss, perhaps Memphis will be a little bit deflated when they come for Missouri’s Homecoming Game.
October 27th vs No. 14 Kentucky – Kentucky (5-1, 3-1 SEC) is now in the mix for the SEC East title thanks to Georgia’s 36-16 loss to LSU. The Wildcats’ only loss so far this season was 20-14 in OT at Texas A&M. Benny Snell might just be the best running back in the SEC and Barry Odom has yet to beat Mark Stoops. While a lot of this favors Kentucky, Missouri needs to find a way to take advantage of this game because it’s at home.
November 3rd at No. 11 Florida – Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) already has two huge wins (at Mississippi State and vs LSU) so far in Dan Mullen’s first year as the Gators’ head coach. One week before playing Missouri, Florida has to play heated rival Georgia in such an emotional game. That might be the perfect time to play the Gators if you’re the Tigers.
November 10th vs Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3 SEC) is probably better than their record shows as the Commodores gave Notre Dame and Florida some tough tests, losing to both only by a combined 15 points. With Barry Odom 2-0 against Derek Mason and a home game for Missouri, the Tigers should have the advantage in this one.
November 17th at Tennessee – Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC) just defeated a previously ranked Auburn team on the road, snapping their 11-game SEC losing streak, but maybe that tells us more about Auburn than Tennessee. Either way, progress is definitely showing under first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, making this a dangerous road game for the Missouri at Neyland Stadium.
November 23rd vs Arkansas – Arkansas (1-6, 0-4 SEC) might only have one win against an FCS Eastern Illinois team so far this season, but they’re improving and showing a lot of fight under first-year head coach Chad Morris. With this being a rivalry game, it can go either way, but Missouri has had Arkansas’ number recently, and with this being at home on Missouri’s Senior Day, you have to like the Tigers’ chances in this one.
Breaking down the schedule the rest of the way, here’s the best-case scenario for the Tigers. The four absolute must-wins for Missouri are going to have to be Memphis, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Arkansas. And as mentioned before, none of those are going to be easy. Then, they’re going to need to find a way to split or even sweep the Kentucky / Florida games. That may sound difficult, but it is still certainly doable.
In his first two years as head coach, Barry Odom is a combined 8-4 in the second half of the season. Missouri needs to end up with that same record at the end of this season if they want to meet or exceed expectations.
The second half of this season is the true judgment for this year’s Missouri Football team, and the future for Barry Odom.