Catch up on previous 2022 opponent previews!
Thirteen weeks ago I began my previews of every regular season opponent on Missouri’s 2022 schedule, and as of last week, I’m done! My hope is that you learned something interesting about the dirty dozen the Tigers will be squaring off against this year and get a better idea of what Mizzou will be facing heading into Eli Drinkwitz’s third year at the helm.
With the team specific previews done, let’s take a step back and look at the collection of teams as a 12-unit sample size and rank them based off of various factors. Say...Bill Connelly’s factors that go into preseason rankings, what do you think?
Let’s start will Bill C’s factors that go into rating college football teams headed into the season.
Missouri’s 2022 Opponents Ranked by 5-Year Recruiting Rankings
In the 13-team sample size of the 2022 opponents (plus Missouri), you can break down the 5-year recruiting rankings into four tiers: Tier 1 has Georgia as far and away the best recruiting team, followed by a gigantic gap, followed by Tier 2 of Florida/Auburn/Tennessee. Tier 3 holds South Carolina/Kentucky/Arkansas/Missouri (although the Tigers are ten points worse than Arkansas but 13 points better than Vanderbilt, so, I dunno) with Tier 4 containing Vandy/K-State/LaTech/NMSU. I put Abilene Christian’s recruiting rankings in there but...uh...yeah they ain’t great so I’m not really putting them in a tier.
The good news is that, of this group, Missouri’s recruiting is one of two teams’ recruiting efforts that are actually improving over these specific five years. Vanderbilt’s is also improving but...well...it’s Vanderbilt.
Missouri’s Opponents Ranked by Returning Production
If you don’t understand the Tennessee hype, well, I’ll just point to the returning production ranks to help you figure it out. While Missouri’s offensive returning production is one of the worst of this group, it’s defensive returning production is the best of the sample size, and averages out to fifth-best of the group. Of course, high returning production does not necessarily guarantee massive improvement but it is a good predictor of improvement, and having Tennessee/South Carolina/Kentucky in the top third of the country makes them that much tougher to play against.
Also...Florida...yikes, man, very yikes.
Missouri’s Opponents Ranked by 5-Year SP+ Ratings
This one surprised me, as Missouri ranks 4th among this group in 5-year SP+ performance and there are a couple of ways you can view this. First: despite mediocre returns in the Win/Loss department - 32-29 in that span - the Tigers have somehow played at the fourth best level in a mega competitive division, meaning the quality is there even if the wins aren’t. Of course, they’ve also had two of the worst seasons of this group in the last two years, so it’s not like that success has been trending up (at least, not yet). It does reinforce the Odom/Drinkwitz divide, however: Odom underperformed with better teams, Drinkwitz overperformed with worse teams, and that’s how you end up 3-games over .500 over the past five years. It also goes to show how bad Tennessee and South Carolina have been but the caliber of those teams also jumped considerably in a very short time.
Missouri Opponents Ranked by Preseason SP+ Ratings
All of the above numbers get rolled into one metric, the SP+ ranking system, to figure out the projected quality of team heading into a given season. Missouri heads into the 2022 season ranked 54th in the nation and the 9th-best team of this 13-team sample, projected to be about 5-points better than the average 2022 college football team. Georgia is, of course, projected to be nearly 29-points better than an average college football team, with Tennessee (18.7), Florida (15.0), and Kentucky (14.5) all expected to have a two-touchdown bump over the average ‘22 squad. Auburn, Arkansas, Kansas State, and South Carolina are all packed into a 7-point range - along with Missouri - which makes sense as those are widely perceived to be the Tigers’ toss-up games this season. I don’t need to remind you that three of those games are on the road and that fact is no bueno.
2022 Projected Opponent Starting Quarterbacks in Scheduling Order
A downside of this schedule is that Missouri is going to face a lot of older quarterbacks. Age and experience does not necessarily equate to “better” but having experience is certainly nice. The breakdown looks like this:
- 6th-year QBs: 4
- 5th-year QBs: 2
- 4th-year QBs: 3
- 3rd-year QBs: 3
Keep in mind these are the projected starters: who knows if a freshman, transfer, JUCO, or walk-on somehow wins the starting job for any of these schools in fall camp. Still, Missouri’s quarterback is tied for the youngest in class and third from the bottom in experience if you count drop backs in live action.
So, with all of the numbers out of the way, lets revisit the 2022 schedule one more time:
Six straight games to open, then a bye week, then six straight games to close the season...or, seven straight if you’re the optimistic type. The opening salvo features an alternating home/away slate which, conveniently, leads to my first interesting observation:
With the athletic department wisely swapping out the ill-advised Middle Tennessee road trip of Week 1 and swapping in a visit from Louisiana Tech to Columbia, the ‘22 season will have the quirk of Missouri playing 7 home games and 5 road games. College football is certainly far from being a simple sport to predict but...say, Mizzou wins every home game and loses every road game and goes 7-5; would you take that?
However, here’s the most interesting tidbit I can share with you:
Length of Tenure of Head Coach at School
- 9th year: Stoops (UK)
- 7th year: Smart (UGA)
- 4th year: Klieman (KSU)
- 3rd year: Pittman (Arky)
- 2nd year: Harsin (AU), Lea (Vandy), Beamer (USC), Heupel (UT)
- 1st year: Cumbie (LTU), Patterson (ACU), Napier (UF), Kill (NMSU)
One-third of the teams that Missouri will be playing feature a brand new coach. A whopping 66% of the teams they play in 2022 will have coaches with less than two years of experience at their school. I’m not going to do the work to actually get the answer but I feel confident in saying Missouri hasn’t had a schedule featuring so many coaches in their first two years before. You can even talk yourself into a world where Missouri beats every coach that has been at their current job for less than two years and loses to all the coaches that have been there longer than two years...in which case the Tigers go 8-4. If there’s something you want to point to as a reason to think Mizzou can maybe snag a few more wins than projected, that might be a good factoid to point to.