We knew coming into the season that Missouri was going to be a work in progress. They have certainly made some strides, especially on offense, since making Connor Bazelak the permanent starter. They notched their first win of the season last week against the LSU Tigers in comeback fashion, and were poised to win two in a row with Vanderbilt on the schedule this week. After the postponement though, they will have to wait until December to face Vandy. Who would have thought before the season that four weeks in, the Missouri brand of tiger would be the best brand of tiger in the SEC? Not me, that is for sure.
It is going to get rough for the Tigers over the next few weeks as the tough defense of Kentucky comes to town next week before Mizzou travels to Gainesville on Halloween. Then it is a BYE week before they face the Georgia Bulldogs. The schedule gets a lot easier on the back half with South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt rounding out the schedule. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see Missouri win seven games this year. They are one or two upsets away from posting a seven-win season if they take care of business. That thought might have been laughable before the season, but it looks increasingly possible in this weird season we have been given.
Was it a hangover from the tough battle they had with Georgia or are the Volunteers not as good as we thought? Probably a little bit of both. The fact remains that the Vols were just dominated by the Kentucky Wildcats as the UT offense sputtered. Was it just fatigue after a valiant effort against UGA, or is it a sign of bigger problems for Jeremy Pruitt? We may get some answers next week in a rivalry game against Alabama football on the Third Saturday in October. It is technically the fourth Saturday in October, but in 2020 SEC scheduling, anything goes. Do the Vols have enough firepower to compete with Alabama football on either side of the ball? I don’t know.
The Vols will probably score more than seven points against the Crimson Tide, but they are going to probably need somewhere around 45-50 to even have a chance. Then they get a BYE week before the schedule gets a little easier. Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Vanderbilt are the four opponents after the BYE. All are winnable games, but all of them except Vanderbilt are also losable games. The Vols are at a crux in their 2020 campaign. Any more missteps and the whole season could be a disaster. However, a few successes could salvage the season and put them in contention for the SEC East.
Ole Miss is a roller coaster of a team to watch. Just a week removed from putting up record-breaking numbers against Alabama football, they failed to score a single point in the first half against Arkansas. Matt Corral was atrocious as he threw for just 200 yards and 6 INTs. You won’t win many games when you lose the turnover battle seven to two. The Rebels are a work in progress, but you have to expect to win these types of games against mediocre competition. Don’t get me wrong Arkansas is much improved, but there is no excuse for Ole Miss dropping the ball (pun DEFINITELY intended) as badly as they did.
They get the flailing Auburn Tigers at home next week before traveling to face Vanderbilt for their Halloween game. Both of those are potential wins and could help to get the ship steered back in the right direction. There is still opportunity for Ole Miss to have a very successful season at 5-5 or 6-4. That would be the equivalent of an eight or nine-win season in a normal year. It would be a fantastic start to the Lane Kiffin era in Oxford.
The Gamecocks are a hard team to put your finger on. Are they good, bad, or just mediocre? I know that Will Muschamp would like to know the answer to that as well. They have probably been the team to most fly under the radar this season. After a close loss to Tennessee to start 2020 they gave Florida all they could handle in a close 38-24 loss. They got on track with a 41-7 drubbing of Vandy and continued to improve this week in a win over Auburn. However, arguments could be made that given South Carolina’s results against better teams than Auburn, they should have been more dominant.
By all accounts, Auburn should have won that game. They outgained the Gamecocks 481-297, held them to 3.6 yards per rush, and had 27 first downs to SCAR’s 20. Give credit to South Carolina for forcing three INTs, but it was still not a good day for the offense. The picture on the Gamecocks will get a little clearer next week when they travel to face LSU. Then they get a BYE week before traveling again, this time to College Station to faceoff with the Aggies of Texas A&M. A win over LSU would be a statement, and if they are competitive with TAMU then they have a good opportunity to make some noise in the West.