The Missouri Tigers decided to take the plunge in an effort to upgrade their football program by defecting from the Big 12 to play in the ultra-competitive SEC. Hopefully they will not live to regret this decision in the long run, but it is probably safe to say that season will be a bumpy ride.
The Tigers closed out their tenure in the Big 12 with an overall record of 8-5 and a 5-4 record in conference play. Their season was highlighted by an impressive 41-24 victory over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl to finish the year with a four-game winning streak.
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Missouri’s Head Coach Gary Pinkel’s season did not end on a high note after getting suspended for the final home game of the season against Texas Tech as a result of an arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He has been able to put the incident aside as he prepares his team for the transition into the SEC.
The long-time coach has an overall record of 113-85 since taking over the Tigers’ program in 2001 for an overall winning percentage of 61.2 percent. He will be severely tested to match those results in the SEC, but he remains confident his team will be competitive in its new surroundings.
The Tigers return just five starters from last year’s offense that averaged 32.8 points a game. The good news is that tailback Henry Josey will be back after leading the team with 1,168 yards rushing in 2011.
Junior quarterback James Franklin also returns which could actually provide a bigger boost to the running game. As a sophomore, he threw for 2,733 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he also added 839 yards on the ground to help Missouri finish the season with the ninth-ranked rushing offense in the nation.
Missouri returns six starters on defense including all-conference cornerback EJ Gaines. This unit was ranked 44th in the country in points allowed, giving up an average of 23.5 points a game.
One of the weak spots heading into this season could be the defensive line. The only starter back from last year’s squad is defensive end Brad Madison, so the Tigers will need to look to several underclassman to step up and fill the void.
2012 Missouri Tigers Football Schedule
The Tigers kick off the 2012 season with a winnable home game against Division IAA Southeastern Louisiana, but they put their feet right into the SEC fire the following week with a home game against Georgia, which is favored to win the SEC East.
Later in the season, Missouri has to go on the road to play South Carolina and host Alabama in what should be its two toughest tests after its Week 2 tussle against the Bulldogs.
It gets somewhat of a break down the stretch with a nonconference matchup against Syracuse at home before going on the road to face a familiar foe in Texas A&M, which is also one of the new kids on the block in the SEC.
2012 Missouri Tigers Futures Odds
Missouri gets somewhat of a break having placed itself in the East, but it is still the fourth-favorite to win the division at 11/1 with Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia having lower odds.
Bovada has opened the Tigers as 35/1 longshots to win the conference and prohibitive longshots to win a BCS title at 100/1.
2012 Missouri Tigers Football Predictions
The Tigers are not only faced with the task of competing in the toughest conference in the country, but they do it for the first time with a number of new faces on both sides of the ball.
They should still have a potent running game, which fits perfectly into the SEC mold. However, the question marks on defense could come back to haunt them.
With about four or five winnable games on the schedule, the regular season finale against the Aggies could mean the difference between a bowl berth and an early exit to the offseason. Unfortunately for Tigers fans, I see Missouri coming up a bit short with an overall record of 5-7.
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