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Playing Nice: Missouri

Our pal Sammy from Rock M Nation helps preview LSU-Mizzou

NCAA Football: Missouri at Vanderbilt Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t get to interact with our pals from Rock M Nation nearly enough, but thankfully that changes this week. For the second time in four seasons LSU is gonna head up north to CoMo (side note: so am I! And I’m very excited!) and to get us ready for Tigers vs. Tigers is my guy Sammy Stava.

1. At 5-0 Missouri is by far and away off to its best start under Eli Drinkwitz. What’s changed? Does Drinkwitz now have the Mizzou program meeting expectations?

I think what’s changed to the start of Eli Drinkwitz’s Year 4 after some mediocre seasons is that his previous recruiting classes that were ranked high for Mizzou’s standards is now starting to pay off. Basically, they have the necessary talent to compete and take that next step in the SEC. The manageable schedule to start off the season certainly helped as well. At the very least, Drinkwitz does have the Mizzou program meeting expectations because this was supposed to be the breakthrough year and so far it’s been that type of season.

2. Missouri got through September unscathed but now the grind begins. Not only does Missouri host LSU this week, but they still have games against Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee. How many wins would constitute success over these final seven games?

At the beginning of the season I would have marked this as a “house money” type of game for Mizzou. Now that they’re 5-0 and with LSU’s struggles – I wouldn’t “expect” Mizzou to win by any means, but the opportunity is certainly there for the taking. Having said that, the tough second half of Mizzou’s schedule truly begins with LSU on Saturday and Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee in the later weeks. I would say 8-4 should now be the minimal expectation with 9-3 or better being exceptional.

3. What kind of atmosphere is LSU gonna be walking into Saturday morning?

Lit. Bonkers. All of the above. It will be a sold-out crowd in Columbia at Faurot Field and it’s supposed to be a black-out. It should be a big-time atmosphere and somewhat similar to the Kansas State game earlier this season, but better.

4. LSU had literally its worst defensive day in program history last weekend in Oxford. How on earth does a bad secondary like LSU’s stop a talent like Luther Burden?

Luther Burden is HIM. As of right now, he leads the entire country in receiving yards as a sophomore. Now, despite the struggles with LSU’s defense – they still have talented personnel. Burden has been spectacular so far but this will still be a huge test for him. How to stop him? Double-covering should work – but then that would open up other dangerous receivers like Mookie Cooper and Theo Wease.

5. Missouri has had some close calls this year, with three wins coming by a touchdown or less against MTSU, Kansas State, and Memphis. Are you more impressed that Missouri’s been able to win these games? Or is it cause for concern that they’ve been in so many tight games?

I think it’s a little bit of both. Winning close games can be defined as “clutch” but when you’re playing inferior opponents like Middle Tennessee and Memphis that might spell trouble for later in the season against top-tier SEC opponents. Having said that, Mizzou is 5-0 and one are one of 17 undefeated Power Five opponents. A lot of teams would love to be in Mizzou’s undefeated spot right now.

6. Finally, who wins this game? And what would a win mean for Missouri?

I think Mizzou pulls off a 35-31 win here only because it’s at home. If it was at Baton Rouge – not shot. A win for Mizzou would mean a NY6 bowl berth could be on the table. Even with LSU reeling a little bit, this should be considered a statement win if they’re able to get it done.