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Thursday, July 21, 2011
Previewing Week 1: Missouri

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We started this series at the top of the alphabet, and it's time for the Tigers.

Missouri Tigers


Week 1 Opponent: Miami (OH)

Coach: Don Treadwell, first year

2010 record: 10-4 (7-1, MAC)

Returning starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)

About the RedHawks: Miami was no doubt underrated last season when the Tigers rolled them in Columbia, 51-13. The Redhawks were unimpressive in nonconference play, but reeled off six consecutive wins to end the season to win the MAC, a quality league at the FBS level. The RedHawks' turnaround from a 1-11 season in 2009 to a MAC title was one of the best stories in college football, and earned second-year head coach Mike Haywood the job at Pittsburgh, though that already didn't end well.

The RedHawks will lean on new coach Don Treadwell this year, who helped guide Michigan State to a share of a Big Ten title last season as offensive coordinator and interim head coach after coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack following an overtime win against Notre Dame on Sept. 19.

Could Treadwell be the next great Miami name in the program that's earned the moniker of "Cradle of Coaches?" Jim Tressel, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, a former Oklahoma offensive coordinator, have all come through Miami.

On the field, the Redhawks return quarterback Zac Dysert, a junior, and Austin Boucher, a sophomore who played in seven games as a freshman. Dysert suffered a rib injury and Boucher led the team to wins in its final four games, including the conference championship and the GoDaddy.com Bowl, but fall camp opens with a competition between the two. Boucher completed more than 60 percent of his passes and averaged more than 300 yards a game in his final two starts.

Leading rusher Thomas Merriweather (921 yards, 12 TDs) graduated, but rising sophomore Tracy Woods carried the ball 94 times for 376 yards and a touchdown last season.

Leading receiver Armand Robinson (1062 yards, 12 TDs) is gone, too, but the RedHawks return four receivers with at least 25 catches last season.

The defense returns nine starters, including all eight of the team's top tacklers, led by linebacker Jerrell Wedge.

Random factoid: Illinois coach Ron Zook, whose Illini team has opened its past four seasons against Missouri, is a Miami (OH) alum.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Missouri wins: 81 percent. Miami clearly made big improvements late in the year, and the Tigers will be throwing out a first-time starter at quarterback, which comes with all kinds of unknowns. Missouri is better at every position, but if the offense sputters, anything could happen.

More Week 1 previews: