Schedule analysis: Missouri


Today, we take a closer look at Missouri’s 2013 schedule:

Nonconference opponents (with 2012 records)

Aug. 31: Murray State (5-6)

Sept. 7: Toledo (9-4)

Sept. 21: at Indiana (4-8)

Sept. 28: Arkansas State (10-3)

SEC home games

Oct. 19: Florida

Oct. 26: South Carolina

Nov. 2: Tennessee

Nov. 30: Texas A&M

SEC road games

Oct. 5: at Vanderbilt

Oct. 12: at Georgia

Nov. 9: at Kentucky

Nov. 23: at Ole Miss

Gut-check time: Missouri travels to Georgia on Oct. 12, which is a tough enough trip in its own right when you consider how explosive the Bulldogs should be on offense next season. But for the Tigers, it will also be their third true road game in four weeks. They play at Vanderbilt the week before, and venturing to Sanford Stadium on the back end of that grind will be a huge challenge.

Trap game: The game at Kentucky on Nov. 9 could be dicey. That’s one the Wildcats will be pointing toward heading into their November league slate. They will be coming off a nonconference game at home against Alabama State, while Missouri will be playing for the eighth straight week without a bye.

Snoozer: The Tigers play all four of their nonconference games in September, and there’s not a heavyweight in the bunch. The opener against Murray State figures to be the most lopsided.

Telltale stretch: The month of October is treacherous. In four consecutive weeks, Missouri faces Vanderbilt on Oct. 5 and Georgia on Oct. 12, both on the road, and then comes back home to face Florida on Oct. 19 and South Carolina on Oct. 26. The Tigers only won one game in October a year ago, and the slate this October is even more daunting.

Final analysis: The Tigers won two SEC games in their first season in the league and may have a difficult time topping that win total in 2013. Playing eight straight weeks in this league, especially in a two-bye season, is never ideal. And when you look at what Missouri faces in the month of October, that’s the kind of grind that could break down a lot of teams. Winning those four nonconference games in September is a must. The only road game in that stretch is at Indiana. Ultimately, it may come down to beating Tennessee and Kentucky in back-to-back weeks in November if the Tigers are going to carve out a winning season. Missing the postseason for a second straight year wouldn't bode well for veteran coach Gary Pinkel's job security.