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Re-ranking Missouri’s remaining games in order of difficulty

A lot has changed since the preseason, both for Missouri and for its opponents.

Georgia v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

If you just look at Missouri’s record, the first third of the regular season went as well as it could have — with reasonable expectations.

No one expected Missouri to upset No. 2 Georgia before the season; with that in mind, a 3-1 record was the realistic best-case scenario for the Tigers.

They did just that.

Missouri’s ceiling and floor for its 2018 season have risen substantially based on what we’ve seen. An 8-4 season should now be the baseline expectation; 7-5 would be a disappointment. At the same time, 9-3 would be tough, but it’s certainly obtainable.

And 10-2? That’s not out of the question, although it’s at the upper end of obtainable.

Let’s take a look at Missouri’s upcoming opponents, ranking the games based on degree-of-difficulty based on how those teams have performed so far.

The should-be-wins

8. Arkansas (1-3, 0-1 SEC)

Arkansas has been an unmitigated disaster so far in Chard Morris’ first season. Not only are the Razorbacks reeling after non-conference losses to North Texas and Colorado State, but Missouri gets them at home to finish the year.

7. Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC)

Tennessee got humiliated by Florida on Saturday night, and the sideline optics also haven’t been great in Jeremy Pruitt’s first year. While this game is in Neyland Stadium, this should be a win for Missouri.

6. Memphis (3-1, 0-1 AAC)

Memphis is not a bad team, but based on how Missouri has played so far, the Tigers should not lose to those Tigers at home in mid-October. Memphis just gave up 360 passing yards to South Alabama, and it faces UCF the week prior to heading to Missouri.

5. Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-1 SEC)

Vanderbilt lost to South Carolina on Saturday, but the Commodores are probably better than expected this season, especially after going toe-to-toe with Notre Dame recently in a loss.

The toss-ups

4. Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC)

Florida’s lone loss to Kentucky looks a lot better right now after the Wildcats smoked No. 14 Mississippi State on Saturday. Florida, to its credit, also smoked the Volunteers. Things are looking more settled after that early-season hiccup under Dan Mullen; still, there are questions that Florida has yet to answer.

3. Kentucky (4-0, 2-0 SEC)

Kentucky looks like the second-best team in the East right now. So why is it the third most-difficult game for Missouri instead of the second? First, Missouri gets Kentucky at home. Second, Kentucky’s strength on offense — Benny Snell and a strong rushing attack — is also Missouri’s strength on defense (a very stout run defense, especially up the middle).

2. South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC)

South Carolina’s 41-17 loss to Georgia set them back in the national opinion, but that scoreline was much flukier than many give it credit for. The Gamecocks are still a tremendous team and have a solid quarterback, balanced attack on offense and some under-the-radar playmakers on defense. Furthermore, this one is on the road in the other Columbia.

The sure-loss

1. Alabama (4-0, 2-0 SEC)

I don’t think I really need to explain, do I? Alabama is playing as well as it ever as under Nick Saban, and Tua Tagavoiloa is the best quarterback to come out of Tuscaloosa in that span. This is a get in, get out, don’t get injured type of game for Missouri.