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Where does an improving Missouri football team fit in an improving SEC?

Here are today’s Mizzou Links. Happy Eclipse Day, everybody. Don’t stare directly at the sun.

I finished my SEC previews last week for SB Nation — you can find a list of all my previews here — and I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that Missouri is all but guaranteed to improve again in Barry Odom’s second season. Per the numbers, the Tigers improved last year, too, even if the win total crept down a notch. But this year, they are projected to be a borderline top-50 team again, and if the defense gels, top-40 (or, technically, top-30) is possible.

The bad news: thanks to returning production, nearly everyone in the SEC is projected to improve.

Only LSU is projected to regress, and not by much. I can’t necessarily justify Florida improving, but it’s at least conceivable if the offense accounts for a bit of defensive regression.

At the end of each set of conference previews, I create a power rankings post summarizing both the projected rankings and my own personal opinions on how teach team shapes up in 2017. (My opinions frequently resemble that of the numbers, but I reserve the right to stray from time to time. To time to time.)

Despite acknowledging Mizzou’s improvement potential, it was hard for me to justify putting the Tigers higher than 13th the season-opening power rankings. They have potential, and I think they have a higher ceiling than Vanderbilt (which likely has a higher floor), but they don’t have a higher ceiling than my No. 12 team, South Carolina. Ole Miss has the talent to be in the top six or so but ranks 11th because of the motivation and general chaos issues that tend to follow teams during full-season interim-coach situations.

A little more good news: Mizzou gets South Carolina and No. 8 Tennessee at home and isn’t exactly worlds away from road opponents No. 9 Kentucky and No. 10 Arkansas. The Tigers play only three of the top seven and have four imminently winnable non-conference games. Even at 13th, they had a pretty strong shot at a bowl, and that’s if they don’t exceed either my or the numbers’ expectations. And they have a shot at doing that, too.

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  • It was a fantastic first weekend for Mizzou Soccer. The Tigers spotted Illinois a 1-0 halftime lead in Champaign on Friday night, then blitzed (get it? because Missouri head coach is Bryan Blitz?) the Illini for three unanswered second-half goals and a 3-1 win. Then, on Sunday, they returned home and blanked Iowa State, 2-0. Freshman Macy Trujillo, sophomore stud Sarah Luebbert, sophomore Madison Lewis, and seniors Savannah Trujillo and Jessica Johnson all scored this weekend.