Memorial Stadium fills up (copy)

A socially distant crowd at Memorial Stadium watches Missouri take the field before the start of Missouri’s game against Alabama on Sept. 26 in Columbia. On Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference announced the Tigers’ 2021 schedule.

Missouri football’s 2021 schedule was announced Wednesday, solidifying the team’s Southeastern Conference slate ahead of coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s second year at the helm.

The schedule features seven home games and five road trips for the Tigers, who finished 5-5 in 2020. Seven of Missouri’s 12 opponents finished .500 or below last season, and five of those opponents will play Missouri in the first six weeks of the season. The Tigers also lead six of their opponents in series wins.

The 2021 season will offer a number of firsts for Drinkwitz and the Missouri program, starting with the season-opening meeting against Central Michigan.

The Chippewas will travel to Columbia on Sept. 4 for the first-ever matchup between the programs. It is also the second straight year Missouri has hosted to start the season. Central Michigan played just six games in 2020 and finished 3-3 in the Mid-American Conference with two road wins.

It will be the first non-conference game Drinkwitz will coach for Missouri, due to the Southeastern Conference’s decision to follow a 10-game, conference-only schedule in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season, the Tigers hosted then-No. 2 Alabama for their season opener, losing 38-19.

Missouri’s matchup against Boston College on Sept. 25 will also be a program first. The Eagles finished the 2020 season 6-5 and 5-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference under first-year head coach Jeff Hafley. Though it was bowl eligible, Hafley’s team chose not to participate in the postseason due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Boston College’s most memorable moment of the 2020 season was a standout performance against then-No. 1 Clemson on Oct. 31, when the Eagles led 28-13 at halftime before a scoreless second half allowed Clemson to take control of the game. The Eagles’ losses to ranked North Carolina and Notre Dame teams were also by just two touchdowns or less.

MU will celebrate its 110th Homecoming on Oct. 9 when it hosts North Texas. The two programs have met just once prior, when the Tigers beat the Mean Green 28-7 in 1995. None of Missouri’s current players were even alive for that matchup.

Missouri’s non-divisional SEC opponent outside of Arkansas, which the Tigers will return to playing during rivalry week in 2021, is Texas A&M. The two teams have met three times since joining the SEC, with Missouri winning twice. The most memorable was the final regular season game in 2013 when the Tigers defeated the Aggies 28-21 to win the SEC East. Missouri also beat Texas A&M in 2014 in College Station during its six-game winning streak to repeat as SEC East champions.

The Aggies finished their 2020 season No. 4 in the nation, narrowly missing a playoff bid and arousing controversy among critics of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Texas A&M was 9-1, with its only loss coming against eventual national champion Alabama in Week 2 of the season. It beat North Carolina 41-27 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.

As for the rest of its SEC schedule, Missouri will play its first conference game at Kentucky on Sept. 11 and host its first conference and divisional opponent Tennessee on Oct. 2.

The game against the Volunteers will feature former Missouri offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel, who coached on Barry Odom’s 2016-17 staff, as Tennessee’s head coach. The Volunteers hired Heupel on Wednesday. Missouri lost at Tennessee in 2020, falling 35-12 to the then-No. 21 Volunteers, who went on to lose six straight games and finish 3-7.

The Tigers will then travel to Vanderbilt and Georgia, which finished 2020 No. 7 in the country, before hosting South Carolina and Florida, which finished No. 13. Missouri’s game against Arkansas will conclude its regular season and is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 27. Traditionally the game has been moved to the Friday following Thanksgiving, which would be Nov. 26.

Along with Heupel, Drinkwitz and company will face two more of the SEC’s four new coaches: Clark Lea at Vanderbilt and Shane Beamer at South Carolina. Both are teams the Tigers beat in 2020 under former head coaches.

Season tickets and renewals also went on sale with the announcement of Missouri’s 2021 schedule. Last spring, the season ticket renewal period was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season. A note on the Missouri ticket purchasing website states purchasing season tickets locks in seat locations for future seasons and that, should social distancing guidelines still be in effect come the 2021 season, safety plans will be communicated prior to the season.

The Tigers start their spring practice schedule Feb. 28.

  • Sports reporter, fall 2020 Studying print & digital sports journalism Reach me at emily.leiker15@gmail.com, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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