Over the past couple of years, Troy has pulled off some impressive upsets. Mizzou football must execute on both sides of the ball to prevent a Trojan upset of a Power-5 team for the third straight year.
In 2017, LSU started the season ranked 13th in the country. While a 20-point loss to Mississippi State dropped them to 25th in the AP poll, it wasn’t the worst loss of their season.
Troy marched into Death Valley and built up a 17-0 lead on their way to a 24-21 victory. It was the first time since 2000 that LSU had lost a non-conference home game, ending a streak of 49 straight wins in such conditions.
Just one season later, Troy struck again. This time, they traveled to Lincoln and knocked off the Cornhuskers in Memorial Stadium. Once again, they used a 17-point lead to walk away with a 24-19 upset.
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Two years. Two away games against Power-5 opponents. Two upsets.
Well, its that team again. This Saturday, the Trojans will take the field in Columbia against a Tiger team that has already been upset once this season.
Obviously, a road game against an SEC team doesn’t scare Troy.
So, what did they do in those two games and how does Mizzou avoid falling victim? Let’s get into it.
Against LSU, it was quite obvious what happened. Troy ran for 206 yards and their defense forced four turnovers. LSU was missing Derrius Guice and it showed. Troy played safe and stuck with the ground game and ate clock once they built a lead.
They forced the better team into making mistakes, and they used their underdog status to shock the Tigers. In doing so, they shocked the college football world.
Then they did it again against Nebraska.
Just like the year before, they came in overlooked and built an early lead. They forced turnovers, and they tried to waste clock with the ground game. The Cornhuskers, just like LSU, fell behind 17-0 and then couldn’t recover.
So it may seem easy for Mizzou to avoid an upset. Just don’t get down 17-0.
Jokes aside, there is some truth to that, and Mizzou is prepared to counter what has made Troy capable of these upsets.
The Trojans solely won because of the leads that they built early. In both upsets, they were outscored in the second half and really were outplayed in most statistical categories. But they had a 17-point cushion. Once they had their lead, they could run the ball and chew clock.
If the past is any indicator, this won’t happen at Faurot Field.
This season, Mizzou has outscored their opponents 58-0 in the first quarter. Even if you extend that to last season, they have outscored other teams 74-7 in the first quarter of their previous eight games.
Opponents have only gained 129 total yards in the first quarter, and every opponent has only mustered a three-and-out on their opening drives.
Therefore, Troy shouldn’t be able to jump out to an early lead, as that is exactly what has been impossible against Mizzou this season.
Troy’s next biggest strength is its run game. Missouri has allowed 86 rushing yards combined in their last three games. West Virginia, SEMO and South Carolina all rushed for less than 50 yards in Columbia, and Mizzou’s run defense is top-30 in the nation.
Turnovers also played a huge role in the Trojans’ upsets, yet Missouri has been executional at winning the turnover battle in its past three games. The Tigers have returned an interception for a touchdown in all three of those games.
Their defense allowed 792 yards in those two upsets, so without winning the turnover battle, the Trojans are very vulnerable.
This leaves their passing game, which has been poor. Against Nebraska and LSU,
they had less than 200 passing yards.
So what does all of this mean?
Missouri SHOULD be fine. The team is fully capable of winning this game by loads of points. As long as they continue their first-quarter dominance, they could remind Troy that Power-5 teams are Power-5 for a reason.