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Connecticut Huskies vs. Missouri Tigers Preview and Prediction

Kentrell Brothers

Kentrell Brothers

Connecticut and Missouri meet in a matchup of undefeated teams Saturday at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. The Huskies are coming off a 22-17 win against Army in Week 2. The Tigers survived a potential upset by defeating Arkansas State 27-20.

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Which team will escape Saturday's game with its undefeated record still in tact?

Connecticut at Missouri

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Missouri -21.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Will Maty Mauk find consistency?

Maty Mauk's consistency has been a concern for Missouri dating back to last season. When the Tigers began SEC play, Mauk — who had previously thrown 14 touchdowns and four interceptions — threw for zero scores and five picks in his first three conference games.

On Saturday, Mauk threw for 148 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions on 16-of-37 passing. He is, however, leading Missouri with 83 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

Mauk entered 2014 with high expectations and failed to live up to the hype, despite his team's success. This season, the Tigers will need to win because of their quarterback rather than in spite of him.

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2. Making do without Russell Hansbrough
As noted, Missouri's leading rusher has just 83 yards in two games. The reason? Russell Hansbrough's injury suffered in Week 1.

Hansbrough suffered a right leg injury during Week 1 and was limited to five carries last week against Arkansas State. Hansbrough is Missouri's best returning player from 2014 and a crucial part of the team's offensive success.

The Tigers need Hansbrough back at 100 percent before entering SEC play, which is probably why he's already been ruled out for this game. WIth Hansbrough sidelined, fellow backs Ish Witter (3.3 ypc)  and Tyler Hunt (3.4 ypc) will need to pick up the slack, as the leading rusher so far has been Mauk (5.2 ypc).

3. Connecticut's toughest test so far

Connecticut survived close games against FCS ranked Virginia and Army to open its season. But the Huskies now face the No. 20 team in the nation coming off back-to-back SEC East division titles.

Connecticut is 2-22 against AP Top 25 teams since joining the FBS in 2000. Its most recent victory against a ranked opponent came on Nov. 24, 2012 in a 23-20 road win over Louisville.

Since then, the Huskies have gone 0-15 against AP Top 25 teams, which many expect to continue given Missouri's projected 21.5-point advantage.

Final Analysis

Missouri is still in the process of figuring things out. Mauk needs to prove he's a consistent passer, Hansbrough needs to get healthy, the rest of the offense needs to battle through inexperience and the revamped defensive line must continue to prove its legitimacy.

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This week's matchup provides the Tigers with the perfect opportunity to prepare for a tough SEC schedule. Missouri should enjoy a dominant victory against Connecticut on both sides of the football.

The Tigers should be a solid team in 2015. Once again, Missouri's early schedule should be a confidence booster — aside from the shocking Indiana loss in 2014 — before entering SEC play.

Prediction: Missouri 35, Connecticut 10

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.