Ever since the SEC announced that the 2020 season would be a 10-game, conference only affair we’ve been waiting with baited breath over who our new opponents would be for this season. After a few teases throughout this week we finally got our answer. Missouri will be playing... Alabama and LSU. In addition to the regular schedule already established.
My thought was that Missouri would keep their division schedule, Mississippi State and Arkansas, and then add Texas A&M - Mizzou’s SEC Pledge Brother whom Tigers hadn’t played since 2013 - and LSU (hadn’t played since 2016). I was somewhat right! It’s just we also got the most dominant power of the past 15 powers as well. Cool.
Let’s do some comparing and contrasting, shall we?
Missouri’s pre-COVID schedule looked like this:
One FCS game, two G5 games, a game in Provo against Independent BYU, then a full SEC East slate with Arkansas and Mississippi State from the West. 6 home games, 5 away games, and a neutral site tilt against Arkansas in Arrowhead Stadium. Here’s an advanced breakdown:
- Average Projected SP+ Opponent Ranking: 48th
- Average Projected Offense: 56th
- Average Projected Defense: 47th
- Toughest Opponent: Georgia - 4th
- Easiest (Non-FCS) Opponent: Eastern Michigan - 116th
- Best Offense: Florida - 12th
- Worst Offense: Vanderbilt - 121st
- Best Defense: Georgia - 1st
- Worst Defense: Eastern Michigan - 124th
- Projected Wins: 5.8
With Missouri projected to be 49th overall in SP+ - with a 108th-ranked offense and 18th-ranked defense - the schedule was going to be full of pot holes and toss ups but you could squint to find six wins.
Here’s what Missouri has to deal with now:
Here’s my expert analysis: LSU and Alabama are ten billion times more talented than Central Arkansas and Eastern Michigan. Let’s see the effect of this in the advanced numbers, eh?
Average Projected SP+ Opponent Ranking: 32nd (from 48th)
Average Projected Offense: 46th (from 56th)
Average Projected Defense: 28th (from 47th)
Toughest Opponent: Alabama - 1st
Easiest Opponent: Vanderbilt - 101st
Best Offense: Alabama - 1st
Worst Offense: Vanderbilt - 121st
Best Defense: Georgia - 1st
Worst Defense: Mississippi State - 74th
Projected Wins: 3.2
3.2 projected wins is quite a bit fewer than 5.8! ‘Bama and a rebuilding LSU will easily be more than a match for Drinkwitz’s Baby Tigers but it’ll be an excellent opportunity to bathe the youngsters in a maelstrom of fire and show them what SEC football is like. Again, no coach should have their on-field results be used to extrapolate quality of hire or direction of program, especially with such a killer schedule during the most extraordinary of times.
This is, of course, assuming we’re going to make it through an entire season, anyway. Projections don’t take into account players who opt out, swaths of players out for Covid, or even just “normal” injuries that happen in any given season. But if college football makes it all the way through the season, this will be the gauntlet that the Tigers have to go through.