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Pregamin’ Tennessee

TIME TO DOG WALK THE VOLUNTEERS. BUT FIRST — WE PREGAME!

And then there were three!

Pregamin’ Scoreboard

Writer Wins
Writer Wins
Ryan Herrera 4
Mitch Hill 3
Tim Bussen 1
Nate Edwards (eliminated) 1
Ryan Faller (eliminated) 1
Sean MacKinnon (eliminated) 1
Brandon Kiley (eliminated) 0
Josh Matejka (eliminated) 0

Three contestants, that is, not three games... though I suppose that’s still on the table!

Assuming Missouri is able to make it to a bowl game, Ryan and Mitch will be in the game until the very end. Tim, however, needs a bowl game to at least tie for the lead and would be eliminated with a loss.

And now that you’re caught up with this little shindig that everyone cares about so much... LET’S GET IT, Y’ALL! TIME TO DOG WALK THESE VOLUNTEERS!

Thank you, seniors!

Mizzou Football’s Twitter page spent the week honoring the Tiger seniors.

Thank you, seniors! (Pt. II)

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

No real close up needed. The all blacks with the gold helmet ‘M’ we’ve seen before.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Will we ever win at football?

Well we’ve come to the home stretch of the football season and Missouri appears to be checked out. But there’s always time for a short two (or three!) game winning streak. Is there any reason to hope for a late season run from Missouri?

Brandon Kiley, Lead Football Writer: I think there are two reasons to believe Missouri will find a way to rise up over the final two weeks of the season.

The first is simple — the teams remaining on the schedule aren’t particularly good. Now, that didn’t matter when Missouri traveled to Vanderbilt. But Saturday’s contest against Tennessee has the added benefit of also being played in Columbia! So, there’s that. Oh, and Arkansas stinks no matter the location.

The second reason to believe in Missouri is a belief that the team has pride. I don’t know what changed between the Ole Miss game and today. I’m not sure we’ll ever know. But at some point you have to hit rock bottom and respond, right? And if that’s the case, they’re running out of time to have that response. So if you have faith in this team to finish strong, part of that faith is a belief that they’ll eventually get up off the mat.

Tim Bussen, Staff Football Analyst: Any hope there might be is bound to the play of the defense. While the D has been stingy with yards and points, for the Tigers to win they’ll need to regain the form they showed earlier in the season when they were generating turnovers and scoring points. Points have to come from somewhere, right? And they’re not coming from the offense.

In other words, no, I don’t expect this team to go on a tear.

Mitch Hill, Podcast Producer: There really is not a reason to hope for one.... But without hope, what do you have? College Football is only 12-14 games long each year, so throwing in the towel early is not something I am here for. I have hope each time Mizzou steps out on the field, which always has mixed results. Anyways, so yes there is reason to hope! Why not?!?

There seems to be no fixing this offense, which is bewildering considering how promising they looked at the beginning of the year. What has been the biggest disappointment on that side of the ball?

Brandon Kiley: I think the biggest disappointment — for me — is the offensive line. This was supposed to be one of the best units in the country. It’s been anything but. Again, I don’t know why that’s happened. I’m not enough of a football expert to explain it. But I know last year they were moving mountains & protecting Drew Lock in a way we simply haven’t seen at any point this season.

There is plenty of blame to go around. The receivers aren’t getting open, the coaching staff hasn’t put the players in the best position to succeed, Kelly Bryant doesn’t have much of a deep passing game to speak of, and the running backs don’t seem to be hitting the holes the way they did a year ago. All of that is true. But the biggest gap between expectations and reality come back to the offensive line.

Tim Bussen: First is the play of the offensive line. Very little push in the run game, especially between the tackles. Pass protection is better, but not much more so. Last year’s line was masterful in handing off stunts and picking up blitzers. Too many times this year I’ve seen confusion or indecision on the line that has lead to pressures or sacks.

Second is the receivers. There’s no threat that forces a defense to loosen up. It’s frustrating that every week we see opposing receivers making plays, winning 50/50 balls, racking up yards after the catch. Tiger pass catchers just don’t do these things.

That being said, I never really know how much blame to put on the quarterback. Yes, Bryant is inaccurate on some throws, but not at a greater rate than he was during the win streak. The difference is that during this losing streak he is too often just holding the ball in the pocket, not throwing it. Game broadcasts don’t show us what’s happening downfield. Is Bryant not finding his open receivers or are there no receivers open? Maybe the receivers have the ability to make the kinds of plays I described above, but Bryant is too reticent to give them a chance. Who deserves the blame? I can’t be sure.

Mitch Hill: It has to be the O-Line play. Larry Three Sticks has had a fine year numbers-wise, but at the same time, people have been wanting more. People have wanted more from KB, Albert O (see the Fifth Down Podcasts for more thoughts), and the receivers, but that all starts up front. Without blocking/time, an offense can’t do anything. The O-Line was supposed to be a major strength this year and yet, here we are.

So let’s lay it on the line: there’s seemingly no indication of how this season is sitting with Jim Sterk, but with such high expectations, there’s no way a 6-6 or 5-7 season would be good for morale. So ignore your feelings about whether or not he should get another year: Is Barry Odom coaching for his job on Saturday?

Brandon Kiley: I don’t believe he’s coaching for his job on Saturday. But I do think he could be the following week if he loses on Saturday. This game has some serious long-term implications if Mizzou loses. It puts a whole lot potentially on the line against the Razorbacks. At some point you have to stop the bleeding. We’ve seen Odom bring teams back seemingly from the dead in the past. Can he do it again? We’ve got two weeks to find out.

Tim Bussen: Yes, Odom is coaching for his job. Lose to UT and Arky and I think there’s a good chance Sterk will want to start over with a guy of his own.

Mitch Hill: Yes. The way these four losses have happened is concerning. The offense hasn’t shown any signs of improvement. The penalties aren’t something you love to see. If you finish this season 5-7, that’s horrid. 6-6, as the question states, isn’t great for morale, but if you beat Tennessee you will likely go 7-5 (do not get me started if Mizzou somehow loses to Arkansas) and so, given the uncertainty of everything around the NCAA stuff, give Odom one more year to show that this year was dreadful but not the norm.

PICK ‘EM! Score/over under and MVP pick!

Brandon Kiley: Ugh. Do we have to?

I don’t know how you can pick Missouri against any competent football team at this point, regardless of the opponent. So I’ll take Tennessee by a score of 23-17.

Tim Bussen: Score: Tennessee 23-Missouri 13 / UNDER

MVP: Nick Bolton

Mitch Hill: 24-20 Mizzou. I am not entirely sure of what the Over/Under will be, but as I am writing this it is 45, so Under it is.

Ronnell Perkins is your MVP with a late INT to clinch the ole W in CoMo.