A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to start my own little series of posts on Mizzou Football and this crazy little thing we call CFB. Originally I thought it might just be a good way to speak my mind outside of all the mainstream media into on condensed post instead of thousands of comments. However, I also know it will probably become a series of posts that I will be able to reflect on when the season has taken its course.
Some (including myself in a few weeks) might wonder why I didn’t start till after week three. Honestly, most of the games so far haven’t really told us as much (for me at least) as they have in past years. While the normal aspect that is the craziness of life kicked in more than usual.
Now that we have all of that settled onto the big wall of text thoughts!
I think this team has been mostly what we thought it would be. Matty will take his shots, the linebackers will have some growing pains, the D-Line will be VERY good, and the run game will be a strength. However I do think we have had a few unexpected results as well. The receivers have been better than expected, the o-line hasn't been as dominant as we would have always liked, and someday the TE's might become more prevalent in the passing game (though this is starting to slowly change). A few weeks if you had told me this team would be where it was in week three WITHOUT telling me how anyone else was playing, I would have been even more confident than I was heading into the season. Yes this team still has plenty of spots for improvement but there are plenty of teams that would rather be where we are right now.
Looking ahead to Indiana there are two factors I will probably be focusing on the most as the game plays out.
1. Can the offense do what it does?
Indiana on the defensive side of the ball appears to have roughly picked up from where it was a year ago. So if the Tigers can avoid periods of stalling on offense, convert 3rd downs like last week, and just playing their game in general we will probably be happy with the final score.
2. Can the defense keep Indiana under X amount of points?
Right now I think the magic number is 30 points. Last year teams only scored more than 30 points against the Mizzou defense twice (Auburn and Oklahoma State) and only scored 28 points in two more contests (Vanderbilt and Indiana). So assuming there is possibly some time for the backups to get alot more reps in other positions 30 seems like a reasonable number. Indiana's offense still seems to be chugging along as it has been from last year so their is the chance of them keeping this interesting.
Once you think you've figured out the pecking order it just gets right back to being clear as mud. I'll just post each team in order and leave a sentence or two on them.
It's hard for me to get a really good feel for how good this team truly is honestly. I think the defenses problems from last year are still there but only the upper level of teams will be able to really exploit it. The offense will keep scoring points more often than not so that shouldn't become to much of an issue. By the time the game on October 18th comes around we will probably know most of the answers.
Everyone thought they would be a better team this year and honestly I thought they wouldn't have a worse record than last year. Now the question is what is their ceiling and can they get to 6+ wins? I think they very well could get 6 wins and that is even before they play our game on November 28th. Keep an eye on the hogs this is a team that might be quickly improving.
My original pick to win the SEC West is still the favorite in my eyes mostly because we haven't seen them all that much. The passing game does look better and even with Tre Mason gone they seem to run just as effectively as ever. The last 6 games in the schedule is potentially ridiculously brutal but I don't expect those rankings to stay the same. I think the SEC West title might be decided once again in the Iron Bowl but it won't be a defacto game because one more team will still be in it.
So if the Florida offense back, is Eastern Michigan that bad, or is Kentucky that improved? I think the answer is actually somewhere in a mix of all three. I do think the offense is more suited to the personnel that is on the roster but they still have the same issues that has followed them for years. The WR talent and depth just isn't there and hasn't been since Percy Harvin. I do think Florida will score points in the 20's range more often than not but how many wins will that get them? There are only two more real sure fire win games, and with the canceled Idaho game even 6 wins seems tough.
The real question is was the Georgia win against Clemson or the South Carolina loss the bigger overreaction. Honestly I go with the latter. I do think that the Bulldog's undoing will more often than not be on the defensive side of the ball and not because they can't score. Georgia still has a good chance to win the east because of the schedule but the margin for error has dropped to almost nothing.
A dangerous team that won't be an easy game by any means. Mark Stoops will have scary ball club the next couple of years. However I don't think the breakout game won't happen till maybe next year.
I'm not buying them as a top 10 team right now honestly and maybe not even as a top 15 either. I think that even though they beat a good Wisconsin team the means they were able to do it isn't sustainable. It will come back to bite them at least once and maybe 4 times.
I didn't think this was a dark horse team to win the west this year and I haven't seen anything to be proven wrong on that. Mississippi State is still a really good team but they might become a victim of their division.
Remember when we kept hearing that "NKEMDICHE WAS COMING" and that the land shark defense was going to get us. I honestly think this year that if we were hearing those words I would be much more nervous. However, this teams fate will still be decided on which Bo Wallace shows up to play.
They still don't have really any margin for error but the overreaction to that week one loss was a bit much. That defense might still give up way to many yards and points at times and still has plenty of opportunities to be tested. However Dylan Thompson still has plenty of weapons around him and a BIG offensive line.
Remember when we heard from some Tennessee fans weren't worried about replacing both offensive lines? Well at this moment it looks like they might be right about at least one of them. I do think that the defensive line might actually be better than the group they had last year oddly enough. However, the offensive line is another matter and that the defensive lines of the SEC will exploit it. I think this team has a decent chance to go to a bowl and could be a major threat next season.
So, the offense hasn't seemed to miss much of a beat and the defense might have improved (though they couldn't go much farther down). I do think the lack of the long ball will come back to bite them in at least one game and possibly two. The non-conference slate (in response to a comment made on another blog) even weaker than a paper mache tiger held together by bailing wire so really we don't have much past a one game sample size. That being said I still think they are one of three teams in the West division that might not be decided till the final week.
On a serious note I think this just shows how much James Franklin was important to that teams success, how much he didn't have depth read for this season and beyond, and finally how much he raided their recruiting class. Mason might be the guy for the job but it will be awhile before we have any idea.
Oklahoma is the favorite to win right now but don't be surprised if someone else pulls and upset. Teams I think most likely to snatch the crown 1. Baylor 2. Oklahoma State 3. Kansas State (Never doubt the Wizzard)
Florida State will probably be undefeated in league play unless Clemson wins a game I think they could have won with last years team. I do think that Florida State won't go undefeated however. I think a certain independent team is very capable of pulling off the win.
Oregon is by and large the favorite in my opinion to win the league. UCLA has line problems while USC isn't quite there yet. Stanford has a chance but they need to beat Oregon and I think have them lose one more. However somewhere along the way Oregon will Clemson themselves and lose a game they shouldn't. League play has a habit of that.
Do I think they are as bad as the media makes them? No.
Do I still think they are the weakest of the "Power 5"? Yes.
The BIG's problem has been the same issue that they have faced for the past few years. Strength of the teams in the middle and lower part of the conference. When the top teams lose and the bottom teams keep losing it hurts the conference perception (fair or not). I still wouldn't want to play Michigan State and I don't think many teams in the county would either. Spartans will probably win the league, but also not get the accolades the deserve either.
Is there really a complete and dominant team this year?
Honestly I don't think so the gap between "the elite teams" and the also ran is as far apart as it has been in previous years. Right now I wouldn't be surprised if there is some debate on who the 3rd and maybe 4th team is in the new playoff. There is a real chance that 6 teams could make a case to play for the CFB playoff trophy when its all said and done. However, odds are it will settle itself out by the end of the year. That still doesn't mean I would want to maybe have to make that decision.
Early Playoff Predictions (In no order):
Florida State, Auburn, Oklahoma, Oregon