Missouri was never going to go into Bryant-Denny Stadium and beat No. 1 Alabama.
That much was already very clear before the Tigers’ 39-10 loss Saturday.
The Crimson Tide are too big, too fast, too strong, too well-coached to lose to a flawed team like the Tigers, let alone any other team in the SEC. Alabama has by far the most electrifying player in college football in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, speed demons for receivers and a corn-fed, sturdy offensive line.
An entire column could be spent on the Crimson Tide and how they’re essentially making a mockery of every team that dares line up against them. But Missouri’s story is more interesting.
At the season’s midway point, the Tigers sit at 3-3 overall and 0-3 in SEC play. Weeks 1 through 3 saw MU feast on two inferior opponents and best a pretty evenly-matched opponent (Purdue) on the road.
Late September through early October brought a three-game stretch from hell.
MU spotted No. 2 Georgia 17 points, imploded on the road at South Carolina and got beat down by the best team in the country.
The same story holds true for the team’s quarterback.
Missouri’s preseason All-SEC first-team selection Drew Lock was absolutely terrific in his first three games and has been completely underwhelming the last three weeks. In MU’s three losses, Lock has gone 53 of 110 for 567 yards and one touchdown, while throwing five interceptions, fumbling twice and taking a safety because he held the ball for too long.
With six games remaining, will the real Missouri Tigers please stand up?
In their postgame interviews, some Missouri players mentioned their desire to run the table the last six games. It’s not an idea to scoff at, MU did win its final six regular season games of the 2017 season, after all.
But the Tigers’ second-half slate seems much more intimidating than it did even three weeks ago.
Memphis, next week’s opponent, nearly knocked off No. 10 UCF Saturday. Kentucky has been the surprise of the SEC East. Florida looks like a well-oiled machine after an early loss to Kentucky. Vanderbilt played the Gators tough. Tennessee upset Auburn. Arkansas… well, is still Arkansas.
But there’s no guarantee of seven, even six, wins here. This is a column for another day should the Tigers continue to slide, but coach Barry Odom absolutely could be in trouble. Or, Odom could buy himself a lot of goodwill with another strong finish to a season.