It's been a couple seasons since I did my "TiK's Ten", due to a mix of a crazy work schedule and other factors. However, I have decided to bring it back for 2017, at least for a few weeks. For those who did not read my editions from a few years back, I would post 10 thoughts on a weekly basis - five related to Mizzou and five related to college football as a whole. I will not bring the same detailed analysis that others bring, but I hope I can bring the perspective of someone who thoroughly enjoys college football. I'm a season ticket holder for Mizzou since 1995, as well.
In 2013, when I did it, I started it thinking and hoping we'd end up 7-5 or something, and we had one of the best seasons in history, so perhaps that will bring some good luck again.
This first edition is mainly predictions. So, here goes for 2017...
1. A September to Remember. This is one of the best September schedules I've seen for Mizzou in recent memory. Not only are all four games at home, they're all interesting. The FCS team is Missouri State, which is interesting enough given we have not played them in our FCS rotation and Steckel coaches there - so count me among those who appreciate this game versus say, last year's insanely-hot, ridiculous game vs. Delaware State. South Carolina represents probably the most important game of the season, as if we lose it we're probably headed for a dismal showing with 6-6 being the absolute ceiling, but if we win, we're on track for a bowl game. Then we face Purdue, the type of game we've blown in the past, but must win this year for us to get to the 7-ish win level. If we win all three, then Auburn becomes the ultimate "opportunity game", where if we win it, wow, this could be 2013 all over again, but even if we lose it (as long as we're 3-0 before then), it's not something to worry about as long as it's competitive. This is a long way of saying September is going to be fun at Faurot.
2. Thumbs Up on the Non-Con. I know that Missouri State, Idaho, UCONN, and Purdue don't set anyone world's on fire, but I like it. Purdue is trying to re-build and represents the exact type of Power 5 we should be playing at this point in time, and as Indiana proved, you can't take them lightly. Idaho is well-coached, had a solid season last year, and is going to be on a mission in their last year in FBS. UCONN is not great, but a road game like that, particularly when it falls, could set us up for failure if we're in a tailspin at that point. However, overall, it's a schedule we certainly should sweep if we're any good at all, which means we only need two wins to go bowling.
3. This is a Tough Team to Predict. I'm a big fan of Phil Steele's analysis - his thick book of detailed stats is one of the more impressive things to read through, and his range is from 5 to 7 wins, the latter of which would be a dramatic improvement truly. Yet something tells me even that might be low. In this instance, I really think the schedule plays a role in terms of momentum -- look no further than last year's loss to Georgia and what that would have meant for this team had we not blown that game. Similarly, if we can emerge from September at 3-1, then the Kentucky game looms large...if we win that, then we could emerge from October at 6-2, with a range of possibilities ahead of us. I won't talk about beating Auburn until we are actually 3-0.
4. The "If Game" is what Makes it Tough. I really enjoyed reading "Count the ifs" as it really demonstrates what I mean in Point 3. We have a second year coach with a lot to prove. We have talent and a lot of positions but a tremendous amount of questions, as well. Even last year - a season of doom ending with a blip of optimism at the end - play sinto the guessing game. Lock is obviously the key factor and that makes me nervous, as early on I was his biggest fan but he's been frustrating as it gets at other times, as well. My "If Meter" has us somewhere in the middle group of Bill C's list but there is just something in me that makes this feel like 2013.
5. All That Being Said, I'm Happy with 7-5. I know that may seen like a low bar to some, but given the last two seasons, that would be a great improvement and I'd be happy with it - with one caveat. I don't want 5 blowouts in the losses. There are different types of 7-5 seasons and one where teams like Auburn, Georgia, and Florida destroy us would not elicit a lot of optimism going forward. To fans who are staying away, I get it if you aren't coming to all or even most of the games, for a host of factors - that doesn't bother me. Between 2015, the record on the field, and the overall feeling college football is becoming more about the money than the fans, I get why people choose to do other things on Saturdays. But you'd be wise to come down to a game or two or at least tune in. I think this team will be worth watching.
6. I'm a Fan of Week Zero. I've always thought it was odd that college football drifted away from games the last week of August, and I'm glad to see them return. For those who don't know, a combination of the Hawaii rule and the Sydney game and some other waivers for FCS have allowed some teams to start a week early, and I'm fine with it. The day's games really showed us some early signs that Colorado State, Stanford, and USF are going to be good.
7. Week One Matchups. I'm a huge fan of the September games because I really love non-conference football (it's a reason I'm against 9-game conference schedules) and there are some quality games Week 1, including some that are below the top tier. Alabama-Florida State, obviously, is the premier contest - I think FSU wins. Florida-Michigan also looms large - I think Michigan wins. But, I am also going to be paying attention to Colorado-Colorado State, NC State - South Carolina, Kentucky- Southern Miss, Wyoming-Iowa, App State-GA, and Cal-UNC. Ohio State at Indiana is also intriguing.
8. Predicting Conference Champs. Predicting who wins each conference sets the table for the Playoff, so here goes: Alabama, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Clemson, South Florida, Colorado State, Appalachian State, Western Michigan, and Western Kentucky. Yes, some surprises in there - Stanford over USC and UW, Michigan over Ohio State and Penn State; Clemson over FSU, etc. Playoff guess - Michigan, Clemson, Stanford, and Alabama but I think Ok State's schedule sets up favorably to run the table, and they would not be left out in that scenario.
9. TIK's Teams to Watch. Lurking below the teams I mentioned above, that I think are worth watching, are K-State, LSU, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and out of the Group of 5 realm, Wyoming. I like their QB a lot.
10. Who is Overrated or will Underperform? This is always fun, as I think it's as challenging as picking the surprises. Texas, for instance, is ranked and some think they will be good, but I will believe it when I see it. I think Kentucky is over-rated, myself, as Steele has them at 34 and I think they plummet early with a loss to Southern MIss. I am also not at all a believer in Oregon, Tennessee, or Georgia.
WEEK ONE PREDICTIONS:
UPSET: Southern Miss over Kentucky
CLOSER THAN IT SHOULD BE: Georgia struggles versus Appalachian State
BIG WIN EARLY: Michigan over Florida
BAMA IS 0-1: Florida State over Alabama
See you next week!