The 2013 college football season has begun and the University of Missouri is entering year two in the best football conference in America, the SEC. Finally...it's football season. Ok, so I was a little off on my Missouri Tigers football predictions for their first year in the SEC. Year one didn't go as planned for the boys from Columbia, Missouri with too many injuries to the offensive line and many skill positions ending in a 5-7 finish with no bowl appearance. Things will be different in the fall of 2013 and a bowl appearance will happen for the Tigers.
Without further ado, I give you my game by game predictions for 2013:
Game 1 versus Murray State (Home): Game has already taken place. Missouri ran away with it after a closer than expected first quarter. The Missouri offense was dominant. Great to see Henry Josey back and James Franklin looked impressive.
Final score: Mizzou 58 - Murray State 14.
Game 2 versus Toledo (Home) September 7, 2013: Coach Gary Pinkel welcomes his old team to Columbia. I don't think emotions or other related distractions will impact Pinkel. Toledo is coming off a 24-6 loss to Florida at the swamp. The early game at Florida could have given the Rockets some confidence, but most likely it probably wore them down a little. Missouri won't lose to Toledo at home. Mizzou puts up 35 points.
Final score: Mizzou 35 - Toledo 17.
Game 3 versus Indiana (Away) September 21, 2013: This is a make or break game early in the year for Missouri. The game will be played under the lights in primetime on the Big Ten Network. Indiana put up 73 points in their 2013 home opener versus Indiana State. However, they also gave up 35 points against Indiana State. They put up 49 points in a loss in 2012 against undefeated Ohio State. However, they gave up 52 points in that game against Ohio State. I go back and forth on this game. Is the Missouri offense better than the Indiana defense? Yes. Is the Indiana offense better than the Missouri defense? Yes. I believe it to truly be a toss up game. Credit Missouri for scheduling a trending upwards BCS opponent from a major conference in their non-con schedule. Missouri wins this game maybe 7 times out of 10, but I think Mizzou loses a close one on this day even with the bye week to prepare. I really hope I'm wrong.
Final score: Indiana 38 - Mizzou 35.
Game 4 versus Arkansas State (Home) September 28, 2013: Arkansas State finished 2012 with a 10-3 record winning the Sun Belt conference. They're a good team, however Coach Gus Malzahn has moved on back to the future at Auburn. Yes, I know they won the Sun Belt conference two years ago with Coach Hugh Freeze. However, their starting quarterback from the last two seasons, Ryan Aplin, the two-time Sun Belt conference player of the year is gone. Plus, they don't have enough to beat Mizzou in Columbia. Pinkel gets his team motivated, especially after a tough road loss in Bloomington.
Final score: Mizzou 31 - Arkansas State 16.
Game 5 versus Vanderbilt (Away) October 5, 2013: When I first saw the Missouri schedule I thought this was a loss. I feel differently now. If Mizzou loses at Indiana, this truly is a must win for the Tigers if they want to make a bowl game in 2013. I will be traveling to this road game as will most of the Kansas City, Missouri based Tiger fans as the Kansas City Chiefs play the next day against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Black and gold will not just be worn by Vandy fans on this day. Expect Missouri to bring a huge contingent of fans. This will be a tough game for Mizzou, but Vanderbilt is beatable and Missouri wants payback for a bad home loss versus Vandy in 2012. James Franklin is going to have to step up in Mizzou's first SEC game of 2013 versus a tough secondary. He does this and Missouri squeaks by with a road win in the SEC opener.
Final score: Mizzou 24 - Vanderbilt 20.
Game 6 versus Georgia (Away) October 12, 2013: The Missouri defense will not be able to stop the defending eastern division SEC champions offense. Todd Gurley will run all over Mizzou and Aaron Murray should be able to pick his spots passing. Georgia's defense isn't nearly as good as its offense, but it shouldn't matter. Georgia looked pretty good in a tough loss at Clemson in week 1, but Clemson is a lot better than Missouri.
Final score: Georgia 44 - Mizzou 20.
Game 7 versus Florida (Home) October 19, 2013: Missouri should have won at the swamp in 2012. No ifs, ands or buts about it. James Franklin had 4 interceptions in the 14-7 loss. One of the worst quarterbacking performances of the entire college football season without a doubt. Expect Florida to try to make the game somewhat ugly again in 2013. If Henry Josey finds some holes and Franklin can hit Dorial Green-Beckham and his fellow receivers, Missouri has a decently good shot of winning this game. It would be a signature win for Pinkel. However, I think the odds lie with Florida. The Gators squeak one out in Columbia.
Final score: Florida 24 - Mizzou 17.
Game 8 versus South Carolina (Home) October 26, 2013: The Battle of Columbia will be a tough one for the Tigers. Mizzou got blown away in 2012 at South Carolina. It's the 102nd homecoming week at Missouri, where the homecoming tradition began, but the pageantry won't be enough for the Tigers. South Carolina and Jadeveon Clowney will be too tough. The old ball coach, Steve Spurrier, beats Gary Pinkel again.
Final score: South Carolina 34 - Mizzou 14.
Game 9 versus Tennessee (Home) November 2, 2013: Rocky Top couldn't get it done in 2012 in a thriller versus Missouri at Neyland Stadium. They're not going to get it done in 2013 at Faurot Field. This game is must win for Mizzou in my opinion. They will get it done. Yes, I know there will be a lot of Volunteer fans clad in orange in the stands, but it won't matter. Long drive back to Knoxville. Missouri wins.
Final Score: Mizzou 37 - Tennessee 21.
Game 10 versus Kentucky (Away) November 9, 2013: Coach Bobby Petrino outmaneuvered Coach Mark Stoops in the first game of 2013 with Western Kentucky beating Kentucky. Gary Pinkel will do the same to Stoops. Don't get me wrong Stoops has done great on the recruiting trail, but I don't think that will be enough even with the team gelling more late in the season. No SEC road game is easy, but Missouri wins.
Final score: Mizzou 28 - Kentucky 20.
Game 11 versus Ole Miss (Away) November 23, 2013: Missouri takes a late season bye week into this clash in Oxford. Everyone raves about the The Grove as the premier SEC gameday experience. I can only imagine. One day...one day. Ole Miss looks like a much better team in 2013 and I expect this to be a tough game for the Tigers. They're a young team though. Mizzou has a history of playing Ole Miss well in non-conference games as a member of the Big 12, but the stakes are higher now. Celebrations in Oxford, Mississippi.
Final score: Ole Miss 37 - Mizzou 28.
Game 12 versus Texas A&M (Home) November 30, 2013: Well hello Johnny Football. When Texas A & M sets foot in Memorial Stadium they will have played the Tigers the last 4 years. All these clashes have been in College Station. Mizzou won 2 out of 3 of these meetings. Will Johnny Manziel be heading towards a second Heisman Trophy celebration in New York City, or will he be falling apart? I'm predicting something closer to the Heisman Trophy side of things. Johnny Football will have his offense in full throttle against the Missouri defense. I expect a high scoring affair with the Aggies winning a shootout.
Final score: Texas A & M 44 - Mizzou 35.
So there you have it. I expect the Missouri Tigers to be at worst 6-6 in their second year in the SEC, barring any tough or season ending injuries to key pieces of the team. However, I could see Missouri beating Indiana on the road and knocking off Florida at home as well. 8-4 is a real possibility, just not predicting it. A 6-6 record gets Missouri back to a bowl game where they belong and most likely keeps Gary Pinkel around for another season. Although the rumors are already starting to swirl that Bobby Petrino might be good fit and candidate for Missouri in 2014. I can't see this ever happening. Ever.
Cheers to the 2013 college football season.