With a dominant victory over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl in the past, Missouri fans don’t have any time to waste before looking toward the future, as the SEC released its 2012 schedule Wednesday morning.
First, a quick breakdown on how the schedule is made:
- There are 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference, split into two divisions of seven.
- Schools play eight SEC games.
- Schools play all of the teams in their own division annually, accounting for six games.
- Each school has a “cross-division rival,” which it also plays annually.
- Schools then rotate through the remaining opponents in the other division to fill their last game. Previously, this was done on a two-year home-and-home basis, but the SEC said in its release Wednesday that the 2012 schedule has no bearing on 2013 or future schedules.
Missouri will play in the SEC East with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Texas A&M is Missouri’s cross-division rival. The Tigers will face Alabama for their rotational game.
The nonconference portion of Missouri’s schedule has yet to be finalized. The Tigers definitely will face Arizona State in Columbia on Sept. 15, but their other three games are still up in the air.
Mark Alnutt, Missouri's senior associate athletics director for administration, who is in charge of football scheduling, said the Tigers' nonconference scheduling plan will stay consistent with what it has been:
- One game against a BCS conference team. (The BCS conferences are the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.)
- Two games against teams from outside the BCS conferences (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt).
- One game against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision. (Note: When the Big 12 went to a nine-game league schedule, the Tigers dropped the second non-BCS conference game.)
It will be interesting to see what Missouri can come up with as far as nonconference scheduling is concerned. Alnutt said the first priority is to try to reschedule games with Southern Illinois and Miami (Ohio), which were originally set for Sept. 8 and Sept. 22 respectively. Those have been replaced by SEC games against Georgia and South Carolina.
If it doesn’t work out with Southern Illinois and Miami, Alnutt said that typically another team from those conferences probably would fill in. When the Big 12 changed its 2011 schedule after the departures of Nebraska and Colorado, the Missouri Valley Conference was able to get Western Illinois to come to Columbia for a game.
For the fourth game, Missouri would like to stick to its plan and schedule another non-BCS conference team. However, on such short notice (teams typically schedule games years in advance), it could be difficult for Missouri to get that locked down. If that were to be the case, Alnutt said the Tigers would schedule another BCS conference team before they would play a second FCS team.
One team that Missouri isn’t likely to play is Kansas, according to Alnutt. Although the game is contracted through 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium, no indication has been given that the Jayhawks are willing to come back to the negotiating table.
“We haven’t heard anything official from them or the Chiefs,” Alnutt said. “But we expect to hear soon.”
With all that out of the way, here’s a brief look at what the SEC schedule brings to the table for the Tigers.
Sept. 8 vs. Georgia
Georgia 2011 record: 10-3 (7-1, first in SEC East). Does not include Outback Bowl on Monday.
Missouri all-time vs. Georgia: 0-1
Why you should care: There’s plenty of reason to care just because it’s the first game, but if the Tigers want to have a legitimate shot to challenge for the SEC East title, their path starts right away against the defending division champs.
Sept. 22 at South Carolina
South Carolina 2011 record: 10-2 (6-2, second in SEC East). Does not include CapitalOne Bowl on Monday.
Missouri all-time vs. South Carolina: 2-0
Why you should care: Another game against an SEC East contender, and you shouldn’t miss a chance to watch South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore if he can return from a torn ACL in time for this one.
Oct. 6 vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt 2011 record: 6-6 (2-6, fourth in SEC East). Does not include Liberty Bowl on Saturday.
Missouri all-time vs. Vanderbilt: 2-1-1
Why you should care: It’s the James Franklin bowl — Vanderbilt’s head coach shares the name with Missouri’s quarterback.
Oct. 13 vs. Alabama
Alabama 2011 record: 11-1 (7-1, second in SEC West). Does not include BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9.
Missouri all-time vs. Alabama: 2-1
Why you should care: There’s a chance the Crimson Tide could be the defending champ when the team arrives in Columbia, and even if it isn't, a chance to watch one of college football’s all-time great programs shouldn’t be missed.
Oct. 27 vs. Kentucky
Kentucky 2011 record: 5-7 (2-6, fifth in SEC East)
Missouri all-time vs. Kentucky: 2-1
Why you should care: Tiger fans know there would be worse than losing Missouri's first Homecoming game in the SEC to a perennial bottom feeder.
Nov. 3 at Florida
Florida 2011 record: 6-6 (3-5, fourth in SEC East). Does not include Gator Bowl on Monday.
Missouri all-time vs. Florida: 1-0
Why you should care: The Gators have struggled recently, but anyone who watches college football knows they won’t be down for long. Missouri needs to convert on the chance to pick up a rare road win in The Swamp before Florida returns to prominence.
Nov. 10 at Tennessee
Tennessee 2011 record: 5-7 (1-7, sixth in SEC East)
Missouri all-time vs. Tennessee: 0-0
Why you should care: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville is one of the nation’s best places to watch a game. The Vols typically pack more than 100,000 fans into what is a picturesque setting for college football in the heart of autumn.
Nov. 24 at Texas A&M
Texas A&M 2011 record: 6-6 (4-5, seventh in Big 12). Does not include Texas Bowl on Saturday.
Missouri all-time vs. Texas A&M: 7-5
Why you should care: In the first edition of the SEC newcomer bowl, there's no reason to break a two-game winning streak in College Station.