COLUMBIA — Here is a look at the Tigers' football games throughout the fall.
Aug. 31: vs. Murray State — The Tigers' first game could be a lively one. Last year the Racers scored an average of 39 points per game, but let up more than 40 per contest. Look for Missouri’s returning starters to set the tone early.
Sept. 13: vs. Toledo — Toledo has performed well against large conference opponents, playing Arizona tough in an overtime loss and beating then-ranked Cincinnati last season. It will need that moxie as the team plays Florida and Missouri on the road to start the season. The Rockets have a balanced offensive attack and will return both their starting running back and quarterback.
Sept. 21: at Indiana — The Tigers' first road game will put the secondary to the test. The Hoosiers had the nation’s 17th ranked passing game last year and their top QB-WR combination of Cameron Coffman and Cody Latimer will return for their junior seasons. The Tiger secondary will need to perform well to give the Tigers a chance.
Sept. 28: vs. Arkansas State — The Red Wolves finished last season strong, winning their last eight including a Godaddy.com bowl win over Kent State. They were bolstered by solid performances on both sides of the ball, finishing in the top 50 nationally in both points for and points against.
Oct. 5: at Vanderbilt (*No. 23) — Vanderbilt recovered from a 1-3 start last year to finish 9-4 and win the Music City Bowl. That strong finish led the team to a No. 23 ranking in the preseason AP poll. The Commodore’s stingy defense surrendered less than 19 points a game last season. Missouri was only able to score 15 against Vandy in their game last year after James Franklin was knocked out of that game with a strained MCL.
Oct. 12: at Georgia (*No. 5 tied) — Georgia will be the first of four teams ranked in the AP preseason top ten Missouri will play this season. The Bulldogs are tied with Texas A&M for fifth in the AP poll. The Tigers led Georgia at halftime of their game last year, but the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half and won the game 41-20. Bulldog tailback Todd Gurley is coming off a stellar freshman season in which he rushed for more than 1,300 yards. Look for him to get the ball early and often.
Oct. 19: vs. Florida (*No. 9) — Florida had a stifling defense last year, holding opponents to just more than two touchdowns a game. Its defensive prowess was on display last year when the Tigers traveled to play in The Swamp. Missouri could only muster one touchdown, and Franklin threw four interceptions as the Tigers lost 14-7. The Gator passing game struggled last season with less than 150 passing yards per game. The Tigers will have to try and contain the speed of the Gators if they want to win their first SEC home game this year.
Oct. 26: vs. South Carolina (*No. 8) — The biggest challenge facing Missouri in the game against will be Jadeveon Clowney. The projected No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft has been a headache for SEC offenses. The Tigers need to keep Clowney out of the backfield as much as possible in order to beat the Gamecocks. The secondary will also need to do a better job against South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who only threw one incomplete pass in South Carolina’s 31-10 victory against Missouri last year.
Nov. 2: vs. Tennessee — It will be tough for Missouri and Tennessee to top last year’s 4OT thriller. The Tigers won the game 51-48 on an Andrew Baggett field goal. The Volunteers might not be able to keep up their 15th ranked passing offense after losing quarterback Tyler Bray and 1,000-yard receiver Justin Hunter.
Nov. 9: at Kentucky — Last year was tough for the Kentucky football program. The Wildcats finished 2-10 overall and lost all eight SEC games they played. Missouri dispatched the Wildcats with a 33-10 victory in Missouri’s 101st Homecoming game. Following the dismal season, Kentucky fired head coach Joker Phillips and hired Mark Stoops to try and turn the program around.
Nov. 23: at Ole Miss — The success of Ole Miss’ season will largely depend on how well its young talent performs throughout the season. The Rebels were able to sign defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the highest-ranked prospect coming out of high school, as well as the highest rated offensive tackle and wide receiver, according to ESPN. Coach Hugh Freeze has been successful in turning good recruiting classes into results on the field. Freeze went 2-10 in his first season with Ole Miss. Last year he went 7-6 including a win in the BBVA Compass bowl. This will be the first SEC meeting between Missouri and Ole Miss.
Nov. 30: vs. Texas A&M (*No. 5 tied) — The Tigers' final game will be against a former Big 12 foe. Texas A&M and reigning Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel have national title aspirations following last year’s impressive 11-2 season. "Johnny Football" torched the Tigers last year for over 400 total yards and five touchdowns as the Aggies routed Missouri 59-29. Manziel's eligibility is in question after allegations of profiting from signing autographs. An NCAA investigation is ongoing.
* AP preseason poll
Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.