Missouri caught observers’ attention during an impressive winning streak last season, and Greg McElroy expects the Tigers to threaten SEC East favorite Georgia on Sept. 22.
Recently, the SEC Network analyst told SEC Country that the Bulldogs’ trip to Faurot Field on Sept. 22 is the SEC’s biggest “upset alert” game in 2018. The Tigers finished 7-6 last year after losing to Texas in the Texas Bowl in December. Before that loss, Missouri won six consecutive games to close the regular season.
Georgia, meanwhile, was 13-2 after winning the SEC and losing to Alabama in the National Championship Game in January.
“Missouri’s a handful,” McElroy said.
“I would say Georgia at Missouri on 9/22. You’ve got to hang a lot of points on them. I think they’re good. I think they’re going to be a handful. Down the stretch [in 2017], they were playing really well. So I’m a believer in what they’ve got going up there at least for this year.”
A large reason for McElroy’s belief in Missouri comes from quarterback Drew Lock’s potential. Lock, a senior, has 8,695 yards passing with 71 touchdowns and 31 interceptions for his career. He posted a career-high 3,964 yards with 44 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year.
To McElroy, the Tigers can produce another notable winning streak soon. In addition to the matchup against Georgia, tests loom at South Carolina on Oct. 6 and at Alabama on Oct. 13. They have a bye week between the Georgia and South Carolina games. After that difficult three-game stretch, Missouri’s schedule appears more favorable.
“If you look at their schedule, it sets up nicely for them,” McElroy said. “They’ve got to steal one. They pick up Alabama out of the West, which is not ideal. But I would say that they’re a team that can definitely get to eight wins, for sure. If you look at their first three games, they should be at least 2-1, minimum 2-1. They should beat Purdue [on Sept. 15].
“If they can steal one and go beat South Carolina — from Sept. 22 until Oct. 13, they can’t go 0-3 — because I think they can win out. They can easily win, I think, their final six games of the season. Now it all kind of depends on what Florida is, and I know they have the road game at Tennessee. But I don’t think Tennessee is going to be very good this year. I think they can definitely be a team that wins their last six like last year. But they can’t be 2-4 heading into that final six-game stretch. They need to be, hopefully for them, at least .500 if not better.”
Missouri’s play late last year built optimism for the Tigers’ future under coach Barry Odom, who is entering his third season in Columbia with an 11-14 record. Certainly, beating Georgia in a year when many expect the Bulldogs to return to the SEC Championship Game would be a notable achievement as Odom tries to make Missouri an SEC East contender.
Georgia would be wise not to overlook a dangerous Tigers offense this fall.