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Ranking every game on Mizzou’s schedule on a must-win scale from 1-10

Mizzou’s schedule is favorable, but that only means there are more must-win games than a normal year.

AP Photo / L.G. Patterson

Expectations are high heading into the 2019 season for the Missouri football team. That’s what happens when you return 13 starters and bring in a CFP-experienced quarterback named Kelly Bryant.

It also comes as the result of what should be a pretty manageable schedule. The consensus around this year’s team is that anything less than eight wins would be a major disappointment, but nine wins or more would be icing on the cake. As we cross the 50-day threshold until football season, we took a look at every game on a must-win scale of 1-10:

August 31st at Wyoming – Missouri won 40-13 last season, but this one may not be as easy as everyone thinks. Mizzou has to go on the road to open the season with a new quarterback in college football’s highest altitude stadium, making it a tough environment to play in. Craig Bohl is a pretty good coach, who has been a part of many upsets before at North Dakota State. Wyoming went 6-6 last season, but didn’t make a bowl game, so they’ll be motivated to knock off a Power 5 team early. In last year’s season opener, the Cowboys led Washington State 16-13 at halftime in Laramie. On the right night, Wyoming can absolutely pull of the win — it better not be this one. (Must win – 10)

Wyoming Cowboys vs Oregon Ducks, NCAA football Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

September 7th vs West Virginia – The Mountaineers replace Will Grier with Oklahoma QB transfer Austin Kendall (or Jack Allison). Dana Holgorsen left WVU for Houston, with first-year head coach Neal Brown taking over. West Virginia is plenty beatable this season, and Missouri is fortunate enough to get them for their home opener and Kelly Bryant’s Faurot debut. It’s not an SEC game and it’s still very early in the season, so I wouldn’t call this a must-win... but it’s pretty damn close. A win here would give the Tigers some early momentum and some much-needed positive vibes around the fan-base as the season gets into full swing. (Must win – 7)

September 14th vs Southeast Missouri State – There’s not much to say about this one. Missouri is an undefeated 18-0 all-time against FCS opponents (and not every FBS team or Power Five team can say that!) SEMO did go to the FCS playoffs last season and will be excited to play an in-state opponent, but the talent difference is obvious in this one. Anything less than a blowout would be a disappointment. (Must win – 10)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Belk Bowl - South Carolina v Virginia Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

September 21st vs South Carolina – This is arguably Missouri’s most important game of the season. Mizzou hasn’t won an SEC opener since 2014, and they haven’t beaten South Carolina since 2015. After losing a 37-35 heart breaker last season, the Tigers need to get the Gamecock monkey off their back. It’ll be a fun, experienced quarterback matchup between Kelly Bryant and Jake Bentley, but if Missouri wants to be taken seriously among the upper teams in the SEC; this is a game they better win. South Carolina also plays Alabama the week before Missouri, so the Tigers better make that an advantage. (Must win – 8)

October 5th vs Troy – Yeah, we all know what happened in 2004. In order to avoid another letdown, Missouri better be careful here. Troy upset LSU in 2017 and Nebraska in 2018, so they are more than capable of pulling off the upset as a Sun Belt power. Under Barry Odom, Missouri is 0-4 off of a regular season bye week. That must change after this game. (Must win – 10)

October 12th vs Ole Miss – This is where Missouri’s schedule is favorable compared to last season. Instead of Alabama, they draw a team from the SEC West that went 5-7 in 2018, which isideal! It’s also the Homecoming game and the game right before a three-game road trip. They can’t afford to be in a slump going into that stretch. (Must win – 9)

October 19th at Vanderbilt – Missouri starts the second half of the season, where they usually excel under Barry Odom, having gone 13-5 in that portion of the schedule. The Tigers have also had the Commodores’ number lately, winning three straight meetings. Vanderbilt returns RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, WR Kalija Lipscomb Sr., and TE Jared Pinkney Jr., but Missouri should have enough talent to overcome this pesky Vandy team. (Must win – 10)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Texas Bowl - Baylor v Vanderbilt Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

October 26th at Kentucky – The Wildcats are bound to take a step back this season after losing both Josh Allen and Benny Snell, but Kentucky still has Missouri’s number lately, going undefeated since 2015. UK gets Georgia the week right before Missouri, so the Tigers could be catching the Wildcats at the right time. Just like South Carolina, if Missouri wants to be considered as an upper tier team in the SEC, this is a game they better win. (Must win – 9)

November 9th at Georgia – Going on the road and playing what should be one of the best teams in the country is probably going to be too tough of a task. It’s a big IF, but Missouri could be 8-0 heading into this game, setting up huge SEC East implications. The Tigers get the Bulldogs right in the middle of a stretch where Georgia plays Florida and Auburn, so that could help. More than likely, Georgia is just going to be too much for Missouri, and a loss here won’t break the Tigers’ season. Wouldn’t it be cool if they go to Athens and win, though? (Must win – 1)

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Texas v Georgia Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

November 16th vs Florida – The Gators are going to be seeking revenge after Missouri’s 38-17 win last season in The Swamp, so the Tigers better be ready for this one. This game could very well decide who finishes in second place in the SEC East, which would be a very realistic goal for Missouri. This is the part of the schedule where Barry Odom thrives, as he is a combined 10-2 in November with nine straight wins. The Tigers need to “Keep It Rolling, Baby!” here, but again, a loss wouldn’t be disastrous. (Must win – 6)

November 23rd vs Tennessee – Will the Tigers beat the Volunteers 50-17 for the third straight season? Probably not, but Missouri is in a good spot to win this one. It’ll be Senior Day at Faurot Field, and with all of the seniors that have stuck around despite the postseason ban, it’d be hard to see them lose this one. Tennessee should be plenty improved from last season and they’re expecting big things from Jeremy Pruitt in year two, but the Vols shouldn’t have enough firepower to knock off the Tigers here. (Must win – 9)

November 30th at Arkansas – Missouri won 38-0 last season and the Razorbacks finished 2-10. Arkansas should be plenty better this season in year two under Chad Morris, but by how much? Plain and simple, Mizzou needs to show that they’re the better team in this one and close out the regular season on the right note. (Must win – 10)