SEMO is, currently - as in two games into the season - the Missouri of the FCS. Whereas our Tigers are ranked 65th overall - with the 65th-ranked offense and 61st-ranked defense - the Redhawks are ranked 67th overall in FCS, with the 59th-ranked offense and 65th ranked defense. They’ve played two games against ranked FCS foes and lost both: 47-21 to #7 Southern Illinois and 52-14 to #1 Sam Houston State.
I’m going to be frank: Missouri could play a D+ game against SEMO and win. The talent gap is that wide and, historically, the Tigers have beaten whatever FCS team they’ve played with an average score of 51.8 - 9.6 (and that’s WITH the 2017 Missouri State game). Coach Drinkwitz is saying all the right stuff and reminding his players that eight FCS teams have beaten FBS teams this year. He’s also reminding them that, just because they’re up big on an overmatched opponent doesn’t necessarily mean the backups get to play. All good things to hear, that’s good coaching.
However, for comparison’s sake, here’s the list of FCS teams that have beaten FBS teams (and their SP+ rankings) in the 2021 season:
- #7 UC-Davis 19 - #80 Tulsa 17
- #18 Eastern Washington 35 - #121 UNLV 33 (2OT)
- #1 South Dakota State 42 - #98 Colorado State 23
- #16 Holy Cross 38 - #129 UConn 28
- #2 Montana 13 - #27 Washington 7
- #12 ETSU 23 - #117 Vanderbilt 3
- #66 Duquesne 28 - #96 Ohio 26
- #25 Jacksonville State 20 - #64 Florida State 17
Look, I’m not saying there is zero chance that Missouri loses this, that would be stupid. All I’m saying is that, for the most part, elite-level FCS teams have taken down some bad FBS teams...and a Washington squad with one of the worst offensive coordinators in the world. SEMO is not an elite FCS team, flat out. Missouri isn’t great but they’re certainly better than half of the FBS teams out there.
Because of that, I’m also saying that there aren’t really any “key stats” that the Tigers need to hone on to beat this opponent.
In lieu of that, I will post a few goals I’d like to see from each side of the ball as the game goes on. You can refer to this post and check off the items as the game is played out on Saturday. Not all of these are mandatory, mind you; they are simply things I’d like to see happen. Some are for visual proof that the Tigers can, indeed, execute these goals. Others are just things that would make me happy.
I haven’t been able to find a reliable depth chart for SEMO and Missouri’s is the same as it always was, so let’s just dive into what I’d like to see this weekend:
When Missouri Has the Ball
- Connor Bazelak connects on 3 passes that travel more than 20 yards in the air
- Tyler Badie has 1 touchdown on the ground and through the air
- Elijah Young breaks off a run of 25+ yards
- Keke Chism and Tauskie Dove combine for 100 receiving yards and at least 1 touchdown
- Dominic Lovett catches a pass thrown more than 20 yards in the air
- Mookie Cooper takes a screen pass for 20+ yards
- Daniel Parker, Jr. and Niko Hea combine for 50 receiving yards and at least 1 touchdown
- Starting offensive line averages at least 3.0 line yards per carry, 45% success rate, 50% opportunity rate
- Brady Cook, Tyler Macon, B.J. Harris, J.J. Hester, Messiah Swinson, and Ryan Hoerstkamp all see the field and contribute to the stat sheet
- At least 14 points in the 1st quarter
- No starters in the 2nd half
When SEMO Has the Ball
- Trajan Jeffcoat logs 2 sacks
- Kobie Whiteside and Akial Byers combine for at least 3 tackles for loss and 4 run stuffs
- Blaze Alldredge and Devin Nicholson finish with at least 8 tackles and 4 Havoc plays each
- A cornerback gets at least 1 interception
- SEMO’s rushing success rate is under 40%
- SEMO’s passing success rate is under 35%
- Johnny Walker, Jr., Arden Walker, Travion Ford, Jamie Pettway, Dameon Wilson, Allie Green IV, Davion Sistrunk, Daylan Carnell, and the Tyler safeties (Jones and Hibbler) all see the field and contribute on the stat sheet
- Shutout in the 1st half
- No starters in the 2nd half
It will be a beautiful, fall day in Columbia. It’s an early game so it’ll wrap up in the early afternoon and you’ll have the rest of the day to do anything that you want. And the Tigers should beat the absolute stuffing out of the Redhawks with no stress. If that’s not the case then we have many other things to worry about regarding this team than simply losing to SEMO, but I feel confident Drinkwitz and his boys will get it done. Let’s see those freshmen play one of their four redshirt games, get some experience, and keep that program building going.