Part of the fun of Week One is all the pontificating and predicting.
If you consume any type of college football content around the two weeks before kickoff, you know this is when everyone has to get their final takes in. Records, key players, big games, etc. When you’ve spent the better part of four months analyzing every in-and-out of a team’s roster and scheme, you feel compelled to offer some bigger-picture thoughts on how it’ll all fit together.
We here at Rock M Nation love the bigger picture, and we’re ready to let you know how this new season of Missouri football is going to shake out. So we, the Rock M Nation masthead, humbly offer up our season predictions. We promise they are all 100 percent correct, so need to look anywhere else.
Sam Snelling, Site Manager
Record: I get to kick this off, eh? I guess I’ll stick with my previous pick of 9-3, though I think 10-2 could easily be attainable with a simple break or two.
Key Game: Georgia. We spend a lot of time talking about winning the winnable games. For me, those games are South Carolina, Kentucky, and maybe even Florida. But if you win the winnable games, the only game which matters on the schedule then is Georgia between the hedges. The Bulldogs will likely be ranked top five in the country, and if things go well for Missouri, the only thing standing between them and a truly special season will be that trip to Athens.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. The quarterback is a pretty significant position and the Tigers have a fairly good player in this role. Missouri has a lot of important players, but if they’re going to have a special year, it’s going to come with the play of Bryant and his ability to help the Tigers’ offense put a lot of points on the board.
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager
Record: 10-2. Missouri’s going to lose two of these three games — Georgia, Florida, Kentucky.
Key Game: South Carolina. It’s really close between this and Kentucky, but a win here makes the possibility of a 7-0 start very real. Even if you lose to Kentucky, you’re 7-1 headed into the bye week when Odom can start cooking up some of his second half magic. Lose here and the margin for error is erased.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. It’s a toss-up between him, Rountree and Okwuegbunam, honestly, but the best version of this season — the one I’m predicting will play out — involves Kelly Bryant putting together a memorable lone season in Columbia.
Matt Harris, Editor
Record: 9-3. The schedule is optimized for a fast start, but a four-game stretch of Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee is the proverbial fork in the road. Let’s just concede a loss to UGA. The Gators’ defense is feisty, while its offense has enough pieces for coach Dan Mullen to play with. Finally, the Volunteers bring back a ton on the offensive side of the ball and shored up the defense with a top-15 recruiting class. No, UT won’t contend for the division, but the Vols are capable of picking off a hobbled or reeling Mizzou. To me, the best outcome is earning a split.
Key Game: Kentucky. The Wildcats’ luminaries — running back Benny Snell Jr. and outside linebacker Josh Allen — departed Lexington, but quarterback Terry Wilson and the entire defensive front seven return. If coach Mark Stoops truly has amassed some depth, the Wildcats could thwart whatever momentum MU’s built in the season’s first seven weeks. Worse, a road loss to UK is followed up by a trip to Georgia, potentially starting a tailspin. A win keeps MU on schedule.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. A vanilla pick? Absolutely, but the Clemson transfer’s performance is what sets the ceiling for this program. There are two players that absolutely can’t be lost to injury: Bryant and linebacker Cale Garrett.
Mitch Hill, Social Media Editor
Record: 10-2. I assume Mizzou will only have one game they should win but lose instead of 2 games.
Key Game: South Carolina is too early in the season for it to be a make-or-break game, so I say the Kentucky game. There’s a bye week after and it’s two weeks before Georgia, so you shouldn’t be looking ahead. Also, just beat Kentucky... losing to them isn’t fun and Mizzou should beat Kentucky in football.
MVP: Larry Rountree III. If he has the year many expect, the offense will open up for Bryant, and Mizzou goes from a good offense to a great one.
Brandon Kiley, Lead Football Writer
Record: 10-2. I think Mizzou loses at Georgia, and finds a way to lose somewhere else on the schedule. I just couldn’t bring myself to go overboard with 11-1, even if it very much feels possible.
Key Game: South Carolina. I think there are two options for this: the first is South Carolina, the next being at Kentucky. I went with South Carolina because I think it’s hugely important for this team to get off to a hot start. If they beat South Carolina, I have a pretty strong feeling they will start at least 7-0 heading into Kentucky.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. It’s the obvious pick, but it’s the obvious pick for a reason. Mizzou doesn’t need Bryant to be a Heisman candidate, but the Tigers need Bryant to at least be solid. We have no reason to believe he can’t be that. It should make for a fun season.
Ryan Herrera, Lead Football Beat Writer
Record: 10-2. Missouri probably loses to Georgia and then drops the ball (pun intended) to either South Carolina, Kentucky or Florida.
Key Game: South Carolina. Missouri needs to be on a roll before it moves into a three-game stretch against Kentucky, Georgia and Florida, and the only way to do that is by beating South Carolina. Plus, that game opens up SEC play, and the Tigers can’t afford to start their conference slate with a dud.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. It has to be the quarterback. He’s a high-profile talent playing the most important position on the field. Missouri’s ceiling will only go as high as Bryant takes it, but a special season from the QB1 could have the Tigers competing for the SEC East crown.
Nate Edwards, Staff Football Analyst
Key Game: South Carolina. To me, Kentucky is the game of the season, but if you start SEC play with a loss you’ve: (a) deflated all the positive air in the Tiger balloon, and (b) made it necessary for Georgia to either lose 3 games or lose to Mizzou at home for us to win the East. Neither is likely.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. C’mon, it’s always the QB.
Tim Bussen, Staff Football Analyst
Record: 10-2. I’m predicting another loss to the Gamecocks, but a victory over Kentucky. Benny Snell is replaceable. Josh Allen, who absolutely wrecked shop on the Tiger offensive line last year, is not. And Mizzou handles the Gators yet again.
Key Game: Kentucky. The road game against the Wildcats immediately precedes a road trip to Georgia. I’m conceding a loss in Athens. If I’m right about that, a win over UK would mean Mizzou avoids hosting Florida on a two-game losing streak.
MVP: Cale Garrett. Garrett is more important to the Tiger defense than any single player is to the offense. Yes, even Kelly Bryant. Terez Hall graduated to the NFL and there is no tested depth at middle linebacker. If Garrett goes down, who fills the leadership void and makes his hundred-plus tackles?
Sammy Stava, Staff Writer
Record: 9-3. I have them losing to Georgia and Florida. They can absolutely go 10-2 if they can reach their full potential, but a slip-up is bound to happen somewhere outside of Georgia and Florida.
Key Game: South Carolina. Missouri definitely should be 3-0 heading into this game. If not, something has gone wrong already. A win here continues the momentum of the five-game home stand, and a loss here would be such a disappointing start to the conference slate. If the Tigers want to be taken seriously in the SEC, this is a must-win game.
MVP: Albert Okwuegbunam. If he stays healthy — and that’s a big if — he’ll be the most important player to this offense, providing a huge weapon for Kelly Bryant to use. He’s one of the best tight ends in the country and a potential first-round draft pick for a reason.
Terry Dennis, Staff Football Columnist
Key Game: Kentucky. Mizzou has a score to settle with the Wildcats, having essentially beaten themselves in last year’s match-up. Kentucky certainly has the swagger on their shoulders coming off of a 10-win season and a comeback last year in Columbia that stunned everyone. The Kentucky game will set the tone going into the bye week in terms of where we stand.
MVP: Kelly Bryant
Ryan Faller, Columnist
Key Game: South Carolina. On one hand, it could be the springboard to an 8-0 start leading into what presumably will be a Top 10 November match up in Athens. On the other, it’ll be another one of those “what if” losses to South Carolina. No need for another one of those.
MVP: Kelly Bryant. At no other position on the field would an injury torpedo the season like at quarterback. No disrespect to Taylor Powell, but the loss of Bryant — who seems like he’s started way more than 18 career games — would force Derek Dooley to drastically alter the offense, and not in a good way.
Sean MacKinnon, Football Beat Writer
Key Game: Florida. Facing the Gators at home provides an opportunity to define the tone of the 2019 season. A win solidifies Mizzou as second in the SEC East and a record it can be happy with. With a loss here, a 10-win campaign is still in reach, but with one less high profile win to add to the resume.
MVP: Larry Rountree III. The junior captain continues to build, earning a top two finish in rushing yards in the SEC. He’ll give reliability to the run game and be a difference maker.
How about y’all? We want to hear your answers to these same questions in the comments below!