We’ve known Missouri’s 2024 football opponents for quite some time, but the SEC unveiled when the Tigers would be playing said opponents on Wednesday night.
With Oklahoma and Texas joining the league, divisions will no longer dictate the makeup of one’s schedule. Instead, Missouri will square off with a unique mix of SEC schools next season, including reviving an old Big 12 rivalry with Oklahoma.
The two teams with the highest conference winning percentage will square off in the SEC title game, which will be televised by ABC given ESPN’s new partnership with the conference and CBS moving on to work with the Big Ten.
Here are the major takeaways I had from the makeup of Mizzou’s 2024 schedule:
#Mizzou's 2024 Football Schedule:— Parker Gillam (@gillam_parker) December 14, 2023
8/31 vs. Murray State
9/7 vs. Buffalo
9/14 vs. Boston College
9/21 vs. Vanderbilt
10/5 @ Texas A&M
10/12 @ UMass
10/19 vs. Auburn
10/26 @ Alabama
11/9 vs. Oklahoma
11/16 @ South Carolina
11/23 @ Miss State
11/30 vs. Arkansas
1. Vanderbilt is yet again the first SEC opponent, and the opening slate is—in turn—yet again favorable
We knew coming into Wednesday night that the beginning of the 2024 campaign would feature Murray State, Buffalo and Boston College, all at home. Thus, a 3-0 start appeared to be well within the cards.
Well, it was revealed that Vanderbilt would be the Tigers’ first SEC opponent of the season, with the Commodores coming to COMO during Week Four. That marks the second-straight season that Vandy will be Mizzou’s first opponent following non-conference action, and it means that another undefeated start through five weeks is very plausible (a bye week follows that game).
After struggling to manufacture early-season momentum in Eliah Drinkwitz’ first three seasons, the Tigers managed to jump out to a strong start in 2023 and carried that success late into the year. We’ll see if they can replicate that in ‘24.
2. Back-to-back road games following Oklahoma
The late-season tilt with the Sooners on Nov. 9 will draw plenty of headlines and be a game that droves of Missouri fans young and old will pay attention to. If the Tigers were to take down their former Big 12 rivals, then Columbia would celebrate like it did in 2010 and the 2024 team will (potentially) be well-positioned to make a late-season push for a playoff spot.
But, Mizzou will have to keep its composure. The rivalry game with Arkansas would loom large during the final week of the season, but this squad will have to avoid letdown performances against South Carolina and Mississippi State on the road. Both venues are hectic, and both of those programs will likely be in search of a pivotal win that they can hang their hat on.
One would hate for a late season upset to be ruined by a defeat in either Columbia (the worse one) or StarkVegas.
3. Favorable placement of bye weeks
Given the extra week between Labor Day and Thanksgiving (occurred in ‘08, ‘13, ‘14 and ‘19 most recently), every SEC team is awarded a pair of bye weeks this season. That can be extremely helpful for some teams, especially if the off dates fall before key games.
For Mizzou, they certainly do.
The Tigers will receive their first true test of the season in College Station on Oct. 5, but it will come after they are off for a week. Later on, Mizzou will host Oklahoma to rekindle a Big 12 rivalry of years’ past. And, that game will occur following a Nov. 2 bye week.
For two out of Missouri’s three biggest games next season, the Tigers should be in relatively great condition.
4. Who do Mizzou’s opponents play prior to their games with the Tigers?
When you read that question, the first thing that likely pops in your head is “Who is coming off a bye week?”
Auburn and Mississippi State are your answers. On a semi-related note, Oklahoma will host Maine the week before taking on Mizzou while Arkansas will welcome Louisiana Tech.
Regarding whom the rest play: South Carolina travels to take on Vanderbilt, Alabama will square off with Tennessee at Neyland Stadium and Texas A&M will play Arkansas in the Southwest Classic.
5. Mid-season stretch features three of four on the road.
Mizzou’s 2024 schedule is symmetrically separated, with a pair of bye weeks separating a trio of four-game stretches. The first quartet of contests will all be at Faurot Field. The last four are an even split.
The middle slate is where things get weird. Following a bye week, Mizzou will take on TAMU away from home before making an odd voyage to Massachusetts for a date with the Minutemen. Following that, Auburn will come to Columbia before the Tigers attempt to upend Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
One can only wonder how going from a high-profile game at Kyle Field to then playing in a sleepy McGuire Alumni Stadium will be handled. And, of course, Drinkwitz and Co. will have to then refocus for two tough games against the state of Alabama. Going 3-1 through that stretch would be considered a major success.