COLUMBIA — Still looking for its first Southeastern Conference win, Missouri plays the toughest team in the conference Saturday.
Alabama, the defending national champion and unanimous No. 1-ranked team in the latest Associated Press poll, comes into Saturday's game undefeated. The Crimson Tide has won two of the last three national championships and is the current favorite to win another this season.
Missouri, meanwhile, is trending a different direction. The Tigers suffered a disappointing loss to Vanderbilt last weekend. Worse yet, James Franklin, the team's starting quarterback, suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the next few weeks.
Now the Tigers will rely on redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser to lead the team's spread offense. Berkstresser started against Arizona State in September and led the Tigers to a 24-21 win. But he struggled against Vanderbilt, completing only nine of his 30 pass attempts. He threw one touchdown pass: an 85-yarder to sophomore Bud Sasser.
Start of tough stretch for Alabama
Like Vanderbilt did last week, Alabama comes into Saturday's game off a bye week. The extra week of practice may have been useful to prepare the Tide for the homestretch of the season. Saturday's game is Alabama's first of five consecutive games against SEC opponents. The last three during the stretch come against teams currently ranked in the top 25 (Mississippi State, LSU and Texas A&M).
The Crimson Tide won its five games so far by an average of 33.2 points, the most recent win coming against Mississippi 33-14.
Crazy upsets do happen
If Missouri were to beat Alabama, it would probably be the upset of the year in college football.
Senior wide receiver T.J. Moe has hope, remembering a similar upset that happened just last season. On a Friday night in Ames, Iowa, a 5-4 Iowa State team upset 10-0 No. 2 Oklahoma State in double overtime.
Moe was also a member of the most recent Missouri team to upset a No. 1 team in 2010, when Missouri beat Oklahoma 36-27. The circumstances of that game, however, were different. Missouri was undefeated and ranked No. 11, as opposed to this year's team that is unranked and without its starting quarterback.
An upset on Saturday would be more like Stanford's 2007 upset of USC, when backup quarterback Tavita Pritchard led the one-win Cardinal to a shocking win against the No. 2 Trojans.
Another important SEC game Saturday
Last weekend, No. 3 South Carolina and No. 4 Florida both scored big wins to move up into the Top 5 in the AP poll. South Carolina beat then No.5 Georgia 35-7 and Florida upset then No. 4 LSU 14-6.
On Saturday, two Top 10 teams face off when South Carolina tries to hold on to its new ranking in a road-game against LSU (now ranked No. 9). The game is at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.