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Missouri Football: Ranking the Toughest Games on Their Schedule

Missouri Tigers College Football

Missouri Tigers College Football

Missouri Tigers QB Drew Lock

The 2017 college football season was definitely a tale of two halves for the Missouri Tigers. After starting 1-5, the Tigers rattled off six straight wins to close the regular season and become bowl eligible, flying up to third in the SEC East standings in the process. Quarterback Drew Lock will be a major force for the Tigers in 2018, with the talent to finish as the top quarterback in the conference.

To make a second straight bowl appearance, which the Tigers haven’t done since 2014, Mizzou will need to get through another gauntlet of a schedule. Its first seven opponents -- including Georgia and Alabama -- finished with winning records last season, making the road back to the postseason treacherous.

Here's a look at how Missouri's schedule unfolds, from the easiest game to the toughest.

12. Sept. 1 vs. UT Martin

The Tigers’ season opener comes at home against the Skyhawks from the FCS ranks. With one of the SEC’s most talented offenses, Mizzou should have no trouble opening up 2018 with a win.

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11. Sept. 8 vs. Wyoming

Last year, the story of this game would have been entirely different. Josh Allen went from piloting the Cowboys' offense to being the seventh overall pick in April's NFL draft. Good for Allen, not for Wyoming. Without their first-round talent at quarterback, Wyoming is a different team, one which Missouri should handle quite easily.

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10. Nov. 24 vs. Arkansas

Arkansas had a down season last year, going just 4-8, including a one-point squeaker at home against FBS rookie Coastal Carolina with the Razorbacks’ only SEC victory -- another one-point decision -- coming vs. Ole Miss. With Arkansas’ questions at quarterback and on the sideline in Chad Morris’ first year as head coach, the Tigers should be able to take care of business and finish their regular season strong in their 2018 finale.

College football rankings: Arkansas

9. Nov. 10 vs. Vanderbilt

Missouri welcomes the Commodores to Columbia in its first of consecutive games against Tennessee teams (Tigers travel to Knoxville to play the Volunteers the following week). This should be an improved Vanderbilt team from a season ago -- when the Tigers won by 28 in Nashville -- but Missouri should have the advantage once again.

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8. Nov. 3 at Florida

A trip to Gainesville marks one of only two road trips in the final six weeks of the season for Missouri. Even on the road, this could very well be the Tigers’ first chance at a win in over a month, as this game follows a five-game stretch that features consecutive games against Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Florida
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7. Oct. 27 vs. Kentucky

This will be a matchup filled with revenge, as Missouri fell by six points last season in what would be the fourth of five consecutive losses. Lock (355 passing yards, 4 total TDs) played remarkably well but two late Kentucky field goals were enough to down the Tigers. Look for Missouri to come out firing early to avenge last season’s close loss.

Kentucky football schedule

6. Sept. 15 at Purdue

The second leg of a home-and-home with Purdue will be another opportunity for Missouri to atone for a 2017 loss. The Boilermakers hammered the Tigers 35-3 in Columbia, and now Missouri will travel to West Lafayette for a rematch 364 days after that beatdown. Both teams are more talented and experienced than they were in 2017, so this Week 3 matchup is a toss-up.

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5. Nov. 17 at Tennessee

Missouri dominated Tennessee 50-17 last season as part of its impressive six-game winning streak. However, it’s hard to see the Volunteers playing that poorly for another season or even getting worse. Having to go on the road to Knoxville should pose some additional problems, so the Tigers can't count on a repeat of last year's encounter.

College Football Top 25: Tennessee

4. Oct. 20 vs. Memphis

Though electrifying quarterback Riley Ferguson departed for the NFL, Memphis returns an intriguing offense and experienced defense. Plenty of skill position talent remains, giving head coach Mike Norvell a chance to retool, rather than rebuild entirely. Drew Lock will need to be on his game to keep pace with high-flying Memphis in this battle of Tigers.

College Football Rankings: Memphis Football

3. Oct. 6 at South Carolina

Though a bye week separates this road date from Missouri’s toughest home test of the year (see next game), the Tigers aren’t exactly thrilled about taking on the Gamecocks. South Carolina won this matchup last year 31-13 in Columbia, and a different outcome shouldn’t be expected. This game always takes place in Columbia, but it's the wrong one this time around as far as Tigers fans are concerned.

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2. Sept. 22 vs. Georgia

Georgia doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. An Alabama touchdown in overtime of the national championship game broke Bulldog hearts and ended a magical 2017 season for Georgia. But Kirby Smart's team returns loaded at just about every position, and is hungry to get back to the College Football Playoff. Missouri gets the Bulldogs at home but that doesn't make the task any more challenging.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Georgia

1. Oct. 13 at Alabama

It’s hard enough for teams to keep pace with Alabama at home, but the Crimson Tide is an impressive 11-1 on the road over the last three seasons as well. In Bryant-Denny Stadium they are 20-2 during that span, making them almost unbeatable in Tuscaloosa. It’s hard to envision Alabama slipping up against this Missouri team, especially as the Tigers come off a road trip to South Carolina the previous week.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Alabama

Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Games. Games. And more Games!

-- Written by Juan Jose Rodriguez, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Rodriguez was an intern for Athlon during summer 2017 and works for a variety of media outlets on campus, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Scholastic Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @JuanJoseRG02.