Missouri plays in the premier football conference in the nation. There is no doubt about it, and seven SEC teams in the Top 25 this week serves as proof. But one of the drawbacks to playing in such a tough conference is an impossibly tough schedule. From October 12th to 26th, Missouri will play three top 18 teams in a row. This is brutal, and the rest of the SEC slate offers no easy wins either. Finding six wins will be tough this year, so winning as many non conference games as you can would be a big step in the right direction towards a bowl game. One of the must win non conference games comes today, when at 7 central time the Tigers will take on the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers and Tigers are each in the same boat for football, struggling to keep up with the heavy weights in their respective conferences. Winning six games and getting to a bowl would greatly help each team; all those extra practices are essential for a younger team trying to get better. Indiana and Missouri are also evenly matched, so this game might come down to one or two key plays late in the contest. Here are the keys to victory for the Missouri Tigers today.
Establish the Running Game
The Tigers will take on the Indiana Defense that has allowed 4.9 yards per rush so far this season. Exploiting the weak Hoosier run defense will be key on Saturday, and the Tigers should lean heavily on Henry Josey to do just that. Running the ball effectively will also open up the passing game for James Franklin. The play action pass can catch the defense off guard and lead to an easy score, so look for the Tigers to establish the run early, and then lean on the play action pass later in the game.
Pressure and Contain the QB
One of the biggest losses this off-season was Sheldon Richardson, a big DT who specialized in stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. Now, that burden falls on Kony Ealy and gang to get after the quarterback and force him to move outside the pocket. Cody Sudfield, Indiana’s QB, is most accurate in the pocket, but he can also move around if you give him some open field. Missouri has to force Sudfield outside the pocket but not let him scramble around for a first down.
Win Special Teams and the Turnover Battle
In the end, both these teams are evenly matched. When two close teams play together, it often comes down to special teams and turnover battles. Missouri has to play well on special teams and pin the IU offense deep in their own territory. Also, finding some turnovers on Saturday could be a big step towards a win in Bloomington.