SEC: Missouri Tigers
To sound like a canned line from a dopey action movie, there’s nothing more dangerous than a team with nothing to lose.
Missouri was hit – very, very unfairly – with NCAA sanctions that prevent it from being eligible for the SEC Championship or a bowl game. Now the pressure is off, and look out for Barry Odom’s team to bring the fire and funk each and every week as it tries to screw up everyone else.
It all starts with the business side of the game. Kelly Bryant might not have a national championship ring – even though he was a key early part of Clemson’s run to the title – but he has the Mizzou starting quarterback job, and offensive coordinator Derek Dooley tutoring him.
It’s not about a bowl game for Bryant; it’s about using his size, talent and tools to grow into a better NFL prospect.
He’s got the talented receivers to work with, a star pro-level tight end in Albert Okwuegbunam, and a loaded group of running backs to help take the heat off. He’s also working behind a line that led the SEC in fewest sacks allowed.
Almost all of the top tacklers are back, the pass rush will be great, and Cale Garrett might just be the best linebacker you haven’t paid attention to. Add to the mix a secondary with three starters returning, and the SEC East has reason to worry about the potential of what this team can do.
The Tigers have to go to Georgia, but they don’t have to play Alabama, LSU, Auburn or Mississippi State, and they get Florida and South Carolina at home.
Can they win at Wyoming? Of course. How about at Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Arkansas? Absolutely.
Can this be the best team in the SEC East? That’s too much of a stretch, but it can have a whole lot of fun without going to a bowl game.