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PREGAMIN’ SEMO

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THE BOYS NEED A GET RIGHT GAME AND LOOK AT THAT, SEMO JUST HAPPENS TO BE IN TOWN

Drink Up!

Hype video drops tonight (or maybe five minutes after Pregamin’ is posted because Mizzou Football hates us), but as always there’s plenty of Drinkin’ Up to do!

Our guy pulling directly from the Nick Saban school of communication! Everyone can beat you all the time! Actually, everyone expects to beat you! The psychology at work... masterful.

Headed to the game to catch some of that hot SEC action? Get prepped!

While you’re tailgating, why not download a new phone wallpaper from the talented team in the football design department!

Came Through Drippin’

FIRST BLOCK M OF THE YEAR, SOMEONE SOUND THE ALARM.

The new duds look sharp against the gold pants while the gold helmets are... well, they’re sporting a Block M, so they’re better than the alternative. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the black helmets with the gold M haven’t been dusted off yet, but I’m no fashionista so no one thought to ask me.

What the “Experts” are saying:

It’s normal to overreact after the first loss of the season, especially when it’s a loss that happens at the last minute like the Kentucky game. But take a step back: Did the loss last week change your expectations for this season at all?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: In retrospect, no, though I did allow myself to believe that a win against Kentucky meant Mizzou could challenge in the SEC East.

Even before the season began, I had Kentucky marked down as a loss. But even though I believe the Tigers could have taken that game, it doesn’t really move the scale in terms of what Mizzou should hope to accomplish this season. They’re good enough to make a bowl game and perhaps knock off someone good along the way, a description that screams, “6 or 7 wins.” That goal is still on the table, especially if they can run off a few in a row over the next few weeks. Despite the highs and lows of the season thus far, nothing has really changed regarding what I expect of the 2021 team.

Karen Steger, Madame Editor: No, it did not change my expectations, because pretty much everything I read on this here stellar website told me not to expect a win given the strengths of Kentucky. And even though Missouri beat Kentucky last year, let’s face it, the track record in the series has not been good. Combine that with it being early in the season and on the road? Let’s just say I did not have high expectations for the Tigers to come out on top, though I was expecting a close game.

Despite losing, Missouri did show a helluva lot of fight, almost convincing me they were going to actually complete the comeback in the last couple minutes and give my dad a really nice birthday surprise (sorry, Dad). The Tigers’ tenacity will come in handy and keep them in some games down the road, to be sure, so call me cautiously optimistic, just as I was before. 7 wins, bowl game... all still in play and doable, loss or not.

Ryan Faller, Contributing Writer: Not one bit. The Kentucky game, at best, had to be viewed as one of those win/win swing games: You come out on top, it’s a solid win over a team that may up being ranked by season’s end, and all of a sudden, your season is wide open to new possibilities; you lose it, and it’s like, eh, let’s see if we can make it up elsewhere on the schedule (e.g. Boston College, Tennessee, Florida (maybe), or Arkansas).

This was mentioned a number of times on the SEC Network broadcast, but it’s worth noting again: This Kentucky team is not the same one Missouri grinded into a bloody pulp last season, and having a chance to tie (or win) the game in the final minute when you were 1) a goal line fumble away from going down three scores, 2) getting zero production from your front seven, and 3) playing in your first threatening environment in almost two years ... is nothing to sneeze at.

Yes, a win in Lexington would have been stellar, but I think we’ll look back and say it didn’t break any projections. I still think the ceiling for this team is seven wins.

As is expected, when Missouri plays an FCS school, there seems to be a dip in attention happening as Mizzou prepares for SEMO. Do you usually get up for blood donor games like this? If so, what keeps you excited about watching a game Missouri will likely dominate?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka: I think everyone would be lying if they didn’t admit some level of waning excitement for games like SEMO. However, if you approach them with the correct mindset, they can be quite enjoyable.

For instance, I always look forward to seeing what kind of depth Missouri has when they square up with an FCS opponent. That’s especially true this year, with a lot of the roster’s high-level talent on the younger side. The game itself might not be all that exciting (or at least it shouldn’t), but I’m juiced at the possibility of seeing players like Travion Ford, Arden Walker, Dominic Lovett, Elijah Young, Tyler Macon and others see the field for long stretches of time. Even at this young age, you start to see the glimmers of potential against a school like SEMO. That makes the game watchable, even if Missouri is shellacking the Redhawks.

Karen Steger: It’s a Missouri Football game, and I don’t care who they’re playing... I’ll be paying attention. Are you really a fan if you just chuck your attention out the window depending upon the opponent? Answer: not a very good one [ducks]. Now, will I actually be watching this game as it’s taking place in front of my tv? No, I will be in StL partaking in Schlafly’s HOP in the City— I’m a hypocrite! But I will most certainly watch it later. And I definitely will be keeping up with it on the twitter and completing my editor duties. Promise.

Moving on, while an FCS opponent isn’t likely to move the needle excitement-wise, I’m interested to see how Baze looks and if we see any of the other QBs get in the game to give him a rest— not because it’s an FCS school, guys! But because he got a bit banged up against Kentucky, as you know. I am also watching to see if anyone new has proven themselves worthy of playing time in practice this week. As Drink told us in a rather fiery way Tuesday:

“The only way anyone is going to get the opportunity to play is if they earn it. This isn’t rec league. This is college football, and the best 11 players are going to play. This isn’t open tryouts, this isn’t a participation trophy and everybody gets a chance to play...”

So, fans know if they see someone new on the field, it’s because he worked his ass off to get there. And if you don’t see a particular player (and he’s not hurt), we know why. I find this to up the excitement factor, don’t you?

Ryan Faller: As I’m writing this, I am bouncing between Ohio/Louisiana and Alabama A&M/Bethune-Cookman, so yes, I will be watching the Mizzou game Saturday.

That doesn’t mean I’ll pretend to truly enjoy what I see.

Watching two SWAC heavyweights may ultimately be more exciting than what we see at Faurot Saturday. I know these games serve a purpose, but I hate them. If the agreement to play a school like SEMO is predicated upon one school cutting a check to the other, I’d rather we just Venmo the money over and save everyone the time, including the 35,000 or so that will be in the stands.

If there’s a silver lining for me, it’s that a ton of underclassmen and fourth and fifth-year scholarship players whose careers have been spent buried on the depth chart will get to see the field, even if it will be against inferior competition.

Two games into the 2021 season, we do know a few things for sure, like Tyler Badie rules and Connor Bazelak appears to have taken a step forward. But as Missouri prepares for SEMO, what are some things you’d really like to see from this Tiger team?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka: Any semblance of a run defense would be nice. I don’t care that it’s SEMO. Just stop someone, please oh my god stop someone.

Outside of that obvious answer, I’d love to see some of the young offensive playmakers Drinkwitz has stashed away on the bench. We know Mookie Cooper and Dominic Lovett are exciting... but how about some extended looks at JJ Hester, BJ Harris, Taj Butts or Ryan Hoerstkamp? We know Missouri will want to give Tyler Badie a light workload, so spread the ball around to some of the youngsters and give them some game reps in front of the home fans so they can see what the future holds.

Karen Steger: Run defense. Kentucky pretty much had its way with the Tigers on the ground, and it wasn’t pretty. And let’s focus on catching the ball a bit more, shall we? And let’s have a looksie at some of the Tigers’ depth while we’re at it, since we know we won’t see some of them (except in the case of injuries) a ton this season.

Gimme some healthy time out on the field from.... [checks depth chart] Boo Smith, Barrett Banister, Brady Cook, Mekhi Wingo, and Allie Green IV. And since Nate mentioned him on the BTBS pod this week — HAVE YOU LISTENED?!?— give me some time for Taj Butts, and BK’s personal fave, Ryan Hoerstkamp. And can we see Mr. Social Media, Drake Heismeyer, on the field?

Ryan Faller: I imagine we’ll see a pretty vanilla game plan; maybe, just maybe, you toss in a few new wrinkles, just to give Boston College something to think about for next weekend.

Because we already know how this game will go, I’ll point straight to the second and third levels of the depth chart. Can anyone there show something that’s enough to push starters on either side of the line? I mean, because, damn ... the trenches last week were an ugly place to be last week.

The new redshirt rule has worked wonders for games like these. I am with Josh: Give me Taj Butts, JJ Hester, Tyler Macon, Connor Tollison, and the like. Hell, give the rock to Simi Bakare 25 times in the second half.

Pick ‘em! Missouri is a 34-point favorite in Vegas with an over/under set at 58.5. Make your pick against the spread and name one youngster who you think will have a big-time showing.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka: I think the Missouri defense is pissed and will want to prove itself against a weaker opponent, so give me the under on points. As for the spread, you could get me to bite on a -34 when Drew Lock was QB, but not anymore. I’ll take SEMO ATS and the under with a final score around 41-10.

As for who’s coming up big, I could see Elijah Young busting a few big runs and having his first 100+ yard day. Other candidates include Dominic Lovett, who should be able to burn some FCS corners, or Ennis Rakestraw, who could snag an interception in defense of his starting spot on the depth chart.

Karen Steger: 34 points seems... excessive. I do not think the Tigers will win by 34 points; I’m thinking maybe a 42-14 game, and since 42+14 = 56, I’ll take the under on points.

As for who steps up and has a big showing? Because we haven’t seen him do a lot but get burned so far (sorry, Rake, you are a common topic of the Rock M slack channel), I’m hoping for a great day for Ennis Rakestraw.

Ryan Faller: Vegas is a wholesome place, so I trust it. I say Mizzou wins by at least five scores, somewhere in the neighborhood of 52-16. As for the youngsters, why not a touchdown apiece for the Flash Brothers — Mookie and Dominic? Let’s say maybe one on a 75-yard reverse and the other on a bomb over the top from Bazelak.

Put this one in the books early. Walk away with no injuries. And prepare for another one of those swing games in Chestnut Hill next week.