Fall camp opens on Thursday for Missouri. The season opener against Illinois is exactly one month away. While reserving the right to change our minds multiple times between now and then, PowerMizzou.com offers up our game-by-game prediction for one of the most intriguing seasons in Tiger football history.
September 4th vs Illinois
Last year was supposed to be the year the Illini got the better of this one. I think we can put that to bed. Until Illinois actually beats Missouri, it's a little silly to pick it to happen. Blaine Gabbert gets a potential all-Big XII season rolling with three touchdowns, two to Michael Egnew as the Tigers put up big numbers in the Dome again and Illini fans breathe a sigh of relief to have the series over.
Final Score: Missouri wins it 35-16
September 11th vs McNeese State
I refuse to overanalyze this game. Missouri rolls and Tiger fans get to see the first touchdown of James Franklin's career late in the third quarter.
Final Score: Mizzou moves to 2-and-0 with a 45-10 win
September 18th vs San Diego State
The Aztecs had a tough time moving the ball against anybody last year and Missouri's defense will look better than it probably is through three games. Aldon Smith racks up three sacks, Zaviar Gooden scores on an interception and Derrick Washington goes over 100 yards for the first time on the season.
Final Score: Mizzou wins 38-10 and starts the season with a three-game winning streak
September 25th vs Miami (OH)
The u (notice the lower-case letter) rolls into town to face a Tiger team that hasn't really been tested yet. It won't here either. Jerrell Jackson catches two touchdowns, Wes Kemp gets one and the Tigers overcome a sluggish first half to run away and hide.
Final Score: The Tigers enter Big 12 play unbeaten, 40-20
October 9th vs Colorado
The Tigers have owned the Buffs of late, but this group can actually move the ball thanks to Rodney Stewart and a solid crew of receivers. Toney Clemons makes his case for newcomer of the year in the Big 12 with 140 yards through the air, but Gabbert puts up 280 on the Buffalo defense and keeps the Tigers perfect.
Final Score: Missouri 27, Colorado 23 as the Tigers get the conference schedule started right
October 16h at Texas A&M
This will be the stiffest test of the season for the Tiger defense. Is it improved from a year ago or do the problems of the past linger? Jarrod Johnson puts on a show with 350 yards of total offense. The Tigers match the Aggies on offense for three quarters, but the home team gets a big run late from Christine Michael and pulls out a shootout between the league's top two offenses.
Final Score: A&M deals Missouri its first league loss 38-28
October 23rd vs Oklahoma
After beating Florida State, Cincinnati and Texas, the Sooners come to Columbia the second-ranked team in America. Bob Stoops always gets his team up for this game, but the Tigers are looking to shrug off poor performances in big games over the last couple of years. Mizzou starts strong, jumping to a 14-3 lead at the end of a quarter. But Ryan Broyles is big and Travis Lewis reminds Tiger fans of Curtis Lofton, scoring a back-breaking defensive touchdown.
Final Score: Missouri fights, but loses its second straight 30-20
October 30th at Nebraska
National title talk is over in Lincoln with the Huskers having lost to Washington and Texas. But Nebraska can virtually clinch the North with a win over Missouri. Washington finds some surprising running room against the Huskers, but the aerial attack is locked down by Prince Amakumara and a talented Husker secondary. The game comes down to a kick and Alex Henery breaks the hearts of Tiger fans.
Final Score: Nebraska wins it late 24-21
November 6th at Texas Tech
Looking to stop the bleeding Missouri goes to Lubbock and finds Tommy Tuberville in Mike Leach's place. The offense isn't quite the same in Lubbock, but they can still put up points. However, Gary Pinkel continues his mastery of the Red Raiders as the Tigers hold Tech in check. Gabbert is the star, bouncing back from a rough week in Lincoln to throw four touchdown passes in the win.
Final Score: Missouri gets back on track with a 37-24 win
November 13th vs Kansas State
Though the North is likely out of reach, Missouri sets its sights on a winning league record with the K-State Daniel Thomases in its way. Thomas has a strong day, running for 170 yards, but he fumbles once and the Cats get nothing going through the air. Meanwhile, Missouri's trio of running backs combines for 150 yards on the ground and the Tigers get four field goals from Grant Ressel to win it.
Final Score: Missouri 33, Kansas State 14, moving the Tigers to 7-and-3
November 20th at Iowa State
Missouri's house of horrors doesn't get easier. Jack Trice Stadium continues to flummox Missouri and neither offense can get much going through three quarters. The teams are tied at 14 entering the fourth when Gabbert wakes up. Hooking up with Wes Kemp and T.J. Moe on fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the Tigers take the lead and ice it when Kevin Rutland stops Iowa State's final drive with a pick.
Final Score: Missouri wins it 28-24
November 27th vs Kansas
Turner Gill's first season has been a struggle, especially on offense. The Jayhawks struggle to find consistency at quarterback and come into the finale just 4-and-7, playing only to wreck Missouri's season. But unlike the last three years, this one doesn't come down to the final minutes. Gabbert rolls up the yards and the numbers, throwing for 325 and four scores in a Border War Blowout.
Final Score: Missouri wins it 42-17
The South champion Sooners take the Big 12's spot in the BCS and neither Texas nor Nebraska has the resume to make it with two losses. That leaves the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl and the Huskers in the Alamo. The Insight Bowl, moving up to fourth in the pecking order, takes Texas A&M, which beat Missouri and Texas to finish 9-and-3. That puts Missouri in the Holiday Bowl for the first time in 13 years.
The PAC-10 entrant in the game is the Washington Huskies, who finish second in the league to Stanford. That gives the Holiday Bowl a matchup between the team that gave Gary Pinkel his start and the one that he now coaches. The Tigers get a stiff test from the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in Jake Locker. But Gabbert has his own NFL dreams and stars with three touchdown passes and no picks. The Tiger defense gets a big turnover late, courtesy of an Aldon Smith sack and strip and the Tigers hold on.
Final Score: Gabbert is the MVP of a 34-30 win. Immediately after, Tiger fans begin to ask if he's played his final game as a Tiger.
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