Missouri’s first real test this season will come against the Indiana Hoosiers of the Big Ten Conference. After two easy wins against Murray State and Toledo, the Tigers will face the 2-1 Hoosiers. Indiana has beaten Bowling Green and Indiana State, but lost a close game against Navy. The Hoosiers have looked good on offense, putting up 73 points against Indiana State and averaging over 500 yards of offense. The Tigers offense, led by a healthy James Franklin and Henry Josie, has been just as potent. It is an important games for both team’s bowl hopes and a key litmus test for each school before their conference games begins.
Between these two teams, there will be a lot of offense and not a whole lot of defense. The Tiger’s quarterback, James Franklin, has performed well in his first two games, finally commanding the starting quarterback role. Franklin has thrown for 530 yards and four TDs in two games, albeit against inferior competition. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri’s blue chip recruit from a class or two ago, has also performed up to the expectations so far, hauling in 134 yards and a TD. The recieving core as a whole has also looked strong, with seven different wide outs averaging more than 20 yards per game. Finally, the running game, with a healthy Henry Josie, also looks strong. Missouri has gained 575 yards on the ground in two games, led by Franklin and Josie themselves. Missouri will look to lean more and more on the running game as the season progresses.
Although the Missouri offense has looked great so far, the defense still has some unanswered question marks. Missouri’s opponents are averaging 4.2 yards a carry in two games, a very frightening stat. If Murray State and Toledo can impose their will in the trenches and run the ball effectively, imagine what the Georgias and South Carolinas of the Tiger’s schedule will do. Also, the Mizzou secondary beyond EJ Gaines is very worrisome. Gaines is Missouri’s Darrell Revis, so the Tigers can shut down the oppositions best receiver. But after that, it can be rough sometimes. Gaines and the entire secondary will have their hands full on Saturday with the Hoosiers deep wide receiving core; five players have caught 12 touchdowns so far.
Speaking of the Hoosiers, they are in many ways the same as the Tigers on offense and defense. The Hoosier’s sophomore QB Nate Sudfield can sling it. He excelled and proven himself in three games so far. He looks to continue his hot start against the Tigers. Also like the Tigers, the defense has left much to be desired. Led by senior safety Greg Heban and junior linebacker David Cooper, the Hoosiers have allowed opponents to score 28 points per game and 5.4 yards per rush.
For both teams, this will be the toughest game on the schedule to date. Before each team heads into their respective SEC and Big Ten portion of the schedule, they will play head to head in what should be a balanced, offense-dominated game. Missouri is a 1.5 point favorite over the Hoosiers, so this game could really go either way. Both teams are evenly matched, and we haven’t learned enough about either team this early in the season to make a really accurate prediction. I think the game will come down to turnovers (always important) and the experience of James Franklin over Nate Sudfield. If I was coach, I would rather have Franklin leading the game winning drive rather than young Sudfield, and in the end of the game, that could be the difference.
Prediction- Missouri 44 Indiana 38