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2021 Missouri college football preview: Tigers ready to take a step under Eliah Drinkwitz

Missouri finished .500 against a brutal schedule in 2020, and the Tigers have gone through a full offseason for the first time under Eliah Drinkwitz.

Missouri v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Missouri Tigers were handed as brutal of a schedule as you’ll find in 2020, and they did a good job to finish .500 at 5-5. Mizzou was unable to hang with the best teams in the SEC like Alabama, Florida and Georgia, but they took down LSU in a high-scoring game to highlight their season.

The first season in the Eliah Drinkwitz era has to be considered a success, especially considering there was no offseason as the program was going through a head coaching transition. Missouri should finish with a much better record in Year Two under Drinkwitz with a more manageable schedule and full offseason to develop the roster.

With how last season went to go along with success on the recruiting trail, the fan base should be optimistic where this program is headed.

2020 Season Review

  • 5-5 SEC (3rd in East)
  • All five losses came by 19 points or more, four of the five wins came by 10 points or less

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 27
ESPN Returning Production: 72% overall (56th): 82% offense (27th), 62% defense (89th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 11th in SEC
Returning starters: 8/11 offense, 6/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Connor Bazelak (Sophomore)

Connor Bazelak took over in the second game of the season in 2020 and never looked back. He completed 67.3% of his passes for 2,366 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Bazelak did a great job limiting turnovers in his first season as a regular starter, and half of the picks he threw came in the final game of the season against Mississippi State. If a wide receiver can emerge as an elite pass catcher, this passing game will be difficult to stop in the SEC.

Offense (non-QB): C Michael Maietti (Senior)

Missouri will return just about everybody from the offensive line rotation from 2020 except for Larry Borom, who is in the NFL. Michael Maietti should be among the most consistent and experienced players on this unit and could be an All-SEC selection by the end of the season. The Tigers will have a new leading rusher with Larry Roundtree III off to the pros, and Maietti will play a big role in opening up holes for the new rushing attack.

Defense: DE Trajan Jeffcoat (Junior)

Missouri did not have a good season on the defensive side of the ball last season, but Drinkwitz brought in former NFL head coach Steve Wilks to be the new coordinator. Defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat is an interesting story as he left the program in 2019 only to return last fall. He finished with 23 tackles including six sacks with a forced fumble in 2020. Defense became a big issue late in the season, allowing 49 or more points the final three games of the year. Defense will need to improve for Missouri to move up to the next level.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 68th overall: 88th offense, 50th defense, 25th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 58th overall: 63rd offense, 56th defense

To win national title: +15000
To win SEC: +2500
Win total: 7 (Over -139, Under +110)

2020 Against The Spread: 5-5-0
2020 Point Total: Over 5-5-0

2021 Missouri Schedule, Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

2021 Missouri Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 Central Michigan 4:00pm/SECN MU -13
Saturday, Sep. 11 at Kentucky 7:30pm/SECN N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 Southeast Missouri 12:00pm/ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 at Boston College TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 Tennessee TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 North Texas TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 Texas A&M TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 at Vanderbilt TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 at Georgia TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 South Carolina TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 Florida TBA N/A
Friday, Nov. 26 at Arkansas 3:30pm/CBS N/A