The roller coaster ride of a season for the Missouri Tigers took another trip downwards after Saturday's 45-24 loss to Oklahoma State. A game that was there for the taking for Missouri saw four crucial turnovers from James Franklin to drop the Tigers' record to 3-4.
Buzz around Columbia has now shifted to wondering if Mizzou can even make a bowl game at this point in the season. To do this, they need to win at least three of their last five games in the increasingly tough Big 12.
A game-by-game breakdown of the remaining schedule for Missouri shows that they are in a real battle to become bowl eligible.
This is one of the tougher remaining games to pin down. Missouri has been one of the most up and down teams in the nation this season, from an in-game and game-to-game perspective, but so has Texas A&M. The Aggies, ranked No. 16 this week, would be 7-0 if not for two incredible second-half collapses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas. They have a lot of talent and come in to the game as two touchdown favorites against Missouri, which seems about right.
But maybe the Tigers match up well with this team. They beat A&M 30-9 last year in College Station, putting on a defensive clinic against one of the better offenses in the nation. The situation is obviously very different this season with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, but Missouri still has an above average secondary and could get the job done on offense by focusing on the run. A&M is more talented than the Tigers, but it's not a sure thing that they play 60 full minutes on Saturday. Mizzou would feel a lot better about their bowl chances if they can steal one on the road this weekend.
Chances of winning: 40%
This game looked a lot scarier for Mizzou a couple weeks ago when Robert Griffin was tearing everyone up and Baylor looked unbeatable, but the Bears have lost twice in Big 12 play and have serious problems on defense. Still, this isn't looking like a game Missouri will be favored in. Robert Griffin is a special player and will put up a lot of points, but don't think Missouri won't get their's against a suspect Bears defense that ranks 101st in the nation in points allowed.
This one figures to be a shootout, so look for the better performing defense to come out on top. It's a road game for Missouri, but Waco isn't exactly a tough place to play for opposing teams. I'm calling it a toss-up.
Chances of winning: 50%
It helps that this game is at home. I'm not fully buying Texas right now (what quality opponent have they beat?), so their national ranking shouldn't really mean anything at this point. This game could come with Missouri at 4-5, so a loss would be devastating for the team. Expect some desperation from the Tigers in front of their home crowd.
Diving into the actual player matchups, Texas shouldn't feel very confident in scoring too many points on Missouri. The Tigers have struggled with elite quarterbacks thus far, but Texas doesn't have one right now and that should be the story of this game. A low-scoring affair could be in order here.
Chances of winning: 55%
vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech is one of the more underrated teams in the nation and that was proven by their upset win on the road against Oklahoma this weekend. The Red Raiders played both Texas A&M and Kansas State tough in their only losses so far this season, so this game won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination.
This is a good possibility for another shootout. The Red Raiders have the ninth-ranked scoring offense in the nation, but also the 91st-ranked scoring defense in the nation. Seth Doege is becoming one of the more surprising stories in all of college football. With the way Missouri has covered elite passing quarterbacks this season, he should have a nice game on Nov. 19.
Chances of winning: 45%
@ Kansas (in Kansas City)
This one doesn't really have to be explained too much. Yes, this game is a rivalry game and Kansas could have the chance to prevent Missouri from going to a bowl game, but that isn't going to magically make one of the worst defenses of the last decade be able to stop Henry Josey. If Missouri loses this one, the program is in real trouble.
Chances of winning: 90%
Mizzou will probably be favorites in 2 or 3 of these games, but the rest of the season is really just a big tossup. They could conceivably go 4-1 the rest of the way or they could just as easily go 1-4.
It's up to Gary Pinkel and his staff to get this talented team focused, continue to help James Franklin grow and try and stack up as many W's as possible the rest of the way. A good performance in College Station this weekend could help start the rest of the year the right way.