In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 26, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. You can find all the rankings and previews here.
No. 91 Missouri
Missouri has fallen hard and fast from back-to-back SEC titles and 23 wins over two years to an SEC cellar-dwellar.
They've won nine combined games the last two years — after winning nine or more in a season five times between 2007-14 — and enter 2017 needing a defensive rebirth and a bunch of players battling for starting roles
2016 Record: 4-8 (2-6, SEC)
In the first year of the post-Gary Pinkel era, Missouri won the fewest games since the first year of the Gary Pinkel era (2001). They scored 14 or fewer points in three games (all losses), blew a late late vs. Georgia and lost to Middle Tennessee at home.
However, the near-Georgia win, November victories over Vanderbilt and Arkansas and a big jump in scoring average gave hope for 2017 and beyond.
Head Coach: Barry Odom (2nd year, 4-8)
Barry Odom was ecstatic to take over his alma mater last December and his players were ecstatic to have him.
Odom played at Missouri from 1996-99 and spent 10 years with the program as an assistant, most recently in 2015 as defensive coordinator, before being named head coach. Given Pinkel's abrupt departure and many issues within the athletic department, it was an ambitious undertaking despite the Tigers' status as one of the more stable program in America and recent flirtation with SEC titles.
He endured a five-game midseason losing streak and watched his defense yield 31 or more points six times, including three-straight games of 40 or more. Still, Odom brings much-needed enthusiasm and a commitment to a refreshing retooling of the once-superb program.
Key Returning Offensive Players
QB Drew Lock, RB Damarea Crockett, RB Ish Witter, WR J'Mon Moore, WR Dimetrios Mason, WR Jonathon Johnson, OT Tyler Howell, OT Paul Adams, G Kevin Pendleton, G Adam Ploudre, C Samson Bailey
Missouri used 61- and 79-point games against Eastern Michigan and Delaware State, respectively, to more than double their scoring average from 2015, but struggled mightily against the SEC's best units, namely Florida and LSU (21 combined points).
Junior quarterback Drew Lock must become more efficient and responsible if the Tigers expect to return to a bowl game in 2017. He completed just 54 percent of his passes, had four multi-interception games — including three in the five-point loss to Georgia — and went 4-for-18 against LSU.
However, Lock remains a great fit for coordinator Josh Heupel's up-tempo system and returns his top two running backs and three receivers.
What a difference just one year makes for the offensive line. A year ago, the Tigers barely had enough scholarship linemen for spring ball and were forced to use a patchwork line of youngsters, transfers and walk-ons for much of the 2016 season.
Now they return five players with starting experience, led by junior tackle Paul Adams. Adams stabilized a unit that finished first nationally in tackles for loss allowed per game.
Key Returning Defensive Players
DT Terry Beckner Jr., DT A.J. Logan, DE Marcell Frazier, LB Cale Garrett, LB Eric Beisel, S Thomas Wilson, S Anthony Sherrils
The Mizzou defense took a huge step back in 2016, allowing 1.8 more yards per play and 15.3 more points per game.
They do, however, return a bevy of players with intriguing potential, namely defensive end Marcell Frazier, who exploded in November. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder had 11 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in their final three games, including a three-sack game against Arkansas. Frazier did break his arm in spring ball but is expected to return in plenty of time for fall camp.
Frazier will be joined by three upperclassmen on the line, including tackle Terry Beckner, a former five-star recruit whose first two seasons have ended early because of knee injuries, and is ready to break out.
Garrett and Beisel looked overmatched at times in 2016 but played well at the end of the season, and safeties Anthony Sherrils and Thomas Wilson are both seniors.
Notable Player Losses
DE Charles Harris, LB Donavin Newsom, CB Aarion Penton, CB John Gibson III
Three productive defenders departed Columbia, namely Charles Harris, who left early after registering 30.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks the last two seasons. Newsom had a team-high 73 tackles, Penton and Gibson combined for eight interceptions and 16 passes defended.
Notable Player Additions
G Yasir Durant, DT Malik Young, DT Walter Palmore, DT Rashad Brandon, S Kaleb Prewett
Missouri bolstered the trenches with JUCO transfers.
They return five offensive linemen with starting experience and all the starting jobs should be secured by returnees. Nonetheless, the addition of JUCO transfer Yasir Durant is a big one for a unit that struggled with bodies last year after departures and injuries wreaked havoc.
The Tigers also added three JUCO defensive tackles, including 6-foot-3, 305-pounder Rashad Brandon from ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“That kid’s going to be really good,” Drew Lock said. “I don’t know why I just called him a kid, because he’s definitely not a kid. He’s definitely a man, but he’s going to be great for us and I’m super excited about what he can do.”
At safety, Kansas State transfer Kaleb Prewett, whom Barry Odom said has "a chance to be a great player," is eligible and made a game-high six tackles in the spring game.
Missouri doesn't leave Columbia until an Oct. 7 trip to Kentucky but the first third of the season is not a home cakewalk. They do face Missouri State and lowly Purdue but also host rejuvenated South Carolina and a potential top-10 team in Auburn.
The Tigers miss both Alabama and LSU, arguably the two top teams in the SEC.
|Saturday, Sept. 2||vs. Missouri State|
|Saturday, Sept. 9||vs. South Carolina|
|Saturday, Sept. 16||vs. Purdue|
|Saturday, Sept. 23||vs. Auburn|
|Saturday, Oct. 7||at Kentucky|
|Saturday, Oct. 14||at Georgia|
|Saturday, Oct. 21||vs. Idaho|
|Saturday, Oct. 28||at UConn|
|Saturday, Nov. 4||vs. Florida|
|Saturday, Nov. 11||vs. Tennessee|
|Saturday, Nov. 18||at Vanderbilt|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||at Arkansas|