Missouri football will face some new opponents in 2013 season

But Arkansas is not one of them

By Joe Vozzelli

Coach Gary Pinkel runs out with the team before Missouri’s game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 in Columbia, Mo. He will lead the team in its second season in the SEC in 2013.  Photo by Karen Mitchell

The Missouri football team caught a glimpse of what the 2013 season will look like, although the team had to be surprised to not see one team on its schedule.

The Southeastern Conference released conference schedules for all 14 of its member schools Thursday. Missouri already had three non-conference games for the 2013 season in place before Thursday’s schedule release.

Arkansas was the surprising omission from Missouri’s schedule. All 14 of the SEC’s member schools have what the league calls “a cross-division rival.” Missouri’s cross-division rival is Arkansas.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive had an explanation for this fact.

“As we began working on the 2013 football schedule, it became apparent that the conference would need another year of the ‘bridge’ schedule to make everything work,” Slive said in a news release.

The SEC’s athletics directors will meet in the spring of 2013 to develop schedules for the 2014 season and beyond, according to the release.

Here’s a look at Missouri’s entire 2013 schedule:

Aug. 31 Murray State
Sept. 7 Toledo
Sept. 14 OPEN DATE
Sept. 21 at Indiana
Sept. 28 OPEN DATE
Oct. 5 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 12 at Georgia
Oct. 19 Florida
Oct. 26 South Carolina
Nov. 2 Tennessee
Nov. 9 at Kentucky
Nov. 16 OPEN DATE
Nov. 23 at Ole Miss
Nov. 30 Texas A&M

As of Thursday, Missouri had 11 scheduled games: three non-conference games and eight SEC games. Missouri has one non-conference game still to be scheduled.

The Tigers’ 2013 schedule will feature seven teams from this year’s slate of games, specifically the six other teams from the SEC’s Eastern division plus Texas A&M from the Western. Missouri is in the SEC’s Eastern division, meaning there are a limited number of games the Tigers can play against opponents from the Western division.

Missouri’s schedule will also break a streak of three straight years in College Station, Texas, against Texas A&M.

The Tigers will start conference play with two straight Eastern division road games to start off October. They will play Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 5 then travel to Athens, Ga., for a game against Georgia on Oct. 12.

In the Tigers’ first four SEC games, they’ve been outscored 133-55 but they won’t face Louisiana State or Alabama next season. Alabama (6-0) is the No. 1 team in the nation and beat Missouri 42-10 last Saturday. LSU (6-1) sits sixth in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

The toughest part of Missouri’s 2013 schedule figures to be in October when the Tigers face three teams ranked in the Top 11 of this year’s BCS standings: Florida (No. 2), South Carolina (No. 7) and Georgia (No. 11).

Florida’s defense is ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (12.3 points per game) and has only four seniors on its 11-man starting defense. South Carolina is ranked fifth in scoring defense this season (12.3 points per game). The Gamecocks, however, have six seniors of its starting defense.

The key to Georgia’s play in 2013 could boil down to what junior quarterback Aaron Murray decides to do after the season. Murray could be drafted in the first round of April’s NFL draft, so he may elect to forego his senior season and go to the NFL. Through Georgia’s six games in 2012, he’s thrown for 1,487 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions.

Georgia’s offense has also made use of a 1-2 tandem at tailback this season. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who are both freshman, have accounted for more than 1,000 rush yards and 14 touchdowns. Gurley has rushed for 575 yards and nine touchdowns, while Marshall has accounted for 465 yards and five touchdowns.

Florida and Georgia are also ranked in the top 10 of ESPN.com’s 2013 recruiting class rankings. Florida sits at No. 2, while Georgia sits at No. 9.

Three of Missouri’s other opponents next season are ranked in the Top 20: Texas A&M at No. 13, South Carolina at No. 14 and Vanderbilt at No. 18.

Of course all projections could change on National Signing Day on Feb. 6, 2013. Dorial Green-Beckham, Rivals.com’s No. 1 recruit for the 2012 class, waited until National Signing Day to commit to Missouri.

Back to the 2012 season, Missouri has an off week before returning to action on Oct. 27 for its homecoming game against Kentucky (1-6). The Tigers and Wildcats will both be looking for their first SEC win of the season when they face off at 11 a.m. on Faurot Field.

Missouri (3-4, 0-4 SEC) will need to win at least three of its final five games to become bowl eligible. The Tigers have Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Syracuse and Texas A&M left on the schedule.

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