Missouri Tigers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
There are a lot of weird seasons every year in college football, and last year few teams had one stranger than Missouri did. Through six weeks the Tigers were a total disaster. They won just once and fired their defensive coordinator - like it was all his fault. And then they didn't lose again, becoming one of the least likely bowl teams out there. There were some big asterisks beside that streak as we'll discuss in a minute, but the team believes that it was the start of something truly special. And now they have to try to prove it. And the window is small, as their star quarterback, who is the key to it all, will be playing on Sundays next year.
2017 in a Nutshell
They beat in-state foe Missouri State in their season opener, which obviously proves absolutely nothing. Then things got really, really ugly. They were blown out by South Carolina, Purdue and Auburn at home. A bye week didn't help as they went out after it and lost at Kentucky, and then they were embarrassed at Georgia. They did not look like an FBS team - never mind one in the SEC. But then things changed - and the schedule softened notably. They absolutely destroyed Idaho at home, scoring 68 points. Then they won at UConn by 40. Both teams are bad, but so was Missouri at the time, so the wins matter. Then the schedule got harder on paper, but they got some luck - Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas had all either fired their coach already or it was an open secret that they were going to. Missouri got all of them when they weren't at their best. And they also got Vanderbilt, which is rarely at its best. They won six games, but those wins came against teams that were begging to be beaten. And in the Texas Bowl they faced a team with some issues but some clear direction and strong coaching in Texas, and they were outmatched - it was again like it was the first six weeks of the season.
Key Additions and Departures
The coaching staff went through some key changes, shifting both offensive coordinator and naming a permanent defensive coordinator. On offense Josh Heupel left to be head coach at UCF, and Derek Dooley, last seen in college ranks running Tennessee into the ground as head coach, takes over. Dooley has been coaching with the Dallas Cowboys since 2013, so we should see more of a pro-style feel to the offense this year. The offense was very productive last year, so this is a risk. And on defense, defensive backs coach Ryan Walters takes over as DC. Head coach Barry Odom had functionally taken over as DC last year after the Week 2 change. Walters is young, but he is an Odom disciple, so the relationship should be positive.
The team loses 1,000-yard back Ish Witter, but Damarea Crockett, who topped 1,000 yards in 2016 before being hurt last year, is healthy, and they have depth so they will be fine. Receiver J'Mon Moore was the team's only draft pick when the Packers took him, but there is plenty of depth remaining. And they return starters in all five spots on the offensive line. With Drew Lock leading the way, this is an experienced and talented offense - which makes you wonder why they decided to change offensive philosophies at this point.
The defensive line is excellent, with a lot of returning strength, and the addition of Jordan Elliott, a five-star recruit for Texas who transferred last year and is now eligible, will help a lot. They recruited well here also, so young guys could see some playing time. They return all three starting linebackers, and both starting corners as well, but are facing changes at safety. Kaleb Prewett was scheduled to be a starting safety, and expectations were high, but he was kicked off the team this spring.
Biggest Area of Concern
The shift in offensive philosophy makes me nervous. They have a proven weapon in Lock, and they scored a pile of points last year. They return most of that offense this year but will limit the benefit of that somewhat by forcing them to learn a new offense. It could work very well, but there is no guarantee that it will. What Heupel did last year obviously got him noticed, so continuing his work could have made more sense than swerving.
Missouri Tigers Schedule Analysis
They open with UT Martin, Wyoming and at Purdue, so 3-0 is a realistic expectation - and really a necessity if they want to build on the momentum of last year's second half. But then things get real - probably way too real. They host Georgia, then after a bye they travel to South Carolina and Alabama then host Memphis. They get respite in hosting Kentucky but then have to travel to Florida. The last quarter of the season lets up a bit as they play Vanderbilt then two teams in transition - at Tennessee and then Arkansas at home.
2018-19 Missouri Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
Missouri is at +30000 to win the national title, which puts them behind 30 other teams. They are the fourth choice to win the SEC East at +1000, and the ninth choice to win the SEC at +4000. Drew Lock is a long shot to win the Heisman at +3300. The season win total is set at seven, with the "over" slightly favored.
2018-19 Missouri Tigers Predictions and College Football Picks
I like the over on the season win total quite a bit. I am not excited about Dooley, but I really like Lock, and he has a lot to work with. The defense should be solidly improved, too. They have a floor of about six wins barring a disaster, and they have a decent chance in nine or 10 games - they aren't beating Georgia or Alabama, but they have a fighter's chance in the rest. I am modestly optimistic.
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