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Memphis is the perfect test for Missouri’s make-or-break second half

There’s no easing into this water.

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Wyoming v Missouri Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There’s no Idaho waiting for Missouri as a sacrificial Homecoming offering. Instead, Missouri’s key second-half is going to start against a team that’s a perfect test for how far Barry Odom’s program has come.

Missouri SHOULD beat an opponent like Memphis. It has more talent, top-to-bottom, on its roster than a Group of Five school, as Memphis is.

But at the top? Memphis is comparable. It has the nation’s leading rusher in Darrell Henderson; it has one of the most efficient passers in Brady White. It has a defense that has had its stats skewed by two games against option opponents in Navy and Tulane — offenses that Missouri can’t really emulate.

If the South Carolina game was more fluke than a continuation of past issues; if Georgia and Alabama were just more talented teams; then Saturday should be a Missouri win.

There are no real gimmes in this second half for Missouri, and that includes Saturday. Are these Tigers up to the task?

We’ll know by 6:30 pm.

Missouri-Memphis football: Game information

Time: 3 pm CT

Date: Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018

Location: Faurot Field; Columbia, Mo.

TV: SEC Network

Betting odds: Missouri opened as a seven-point favorite and is currently a 9 1/2-point favorite, via the Action Network.

Missouri-Memphis football: Watch online

Missouri-Memphis football: Preview, predictions

Pete Scantlebury: This has Middle Tennessee State 2016 written all over it, right? Right. However, I think Missouri paces the game just enough with its ground game to keep Memphis off the field and win this one, 49-34. What does it mean for the rest of the year? Nothing. This is a game Missouri has to win, but I don’t think a win will re-write the current narrative about this team. That’s going to have to wait until Kentucky the following weekend.

Mitchell Hill: Mizzou wins by 17 (Let’s say 48-31), but it’s close entering the 4th. This close victory and a stifling run defense helps Mizzou build momentum for Kentucky’s run game coming into town and Mizzou is going to finish the season 8-4 or hey, if they’re really feeling up for it, run the table to finish 9-3, why not?!

Josh Matejka: I’m probably less confident about this prediction than any I’ve made all year, but I think Missouri wins 31-28. That kind of win wouldn’t really say much about where they’re headed for the rest of the season, and I agree with Pete: Kentucky will be the ultimate test.

AlaTiger: Missouri wins 45-42 in a shootout, priming themselves for second successive successful second half of the season.