clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Know thy Opponent 2017: Missouri Tigers

Finally, Missouri can seek vengeance for the 1980 Liberty Bowl

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It is very, very rare that Purdue faces an SEC team in football. The last time it happened was against Georgia in the 2004 Capital One Bowl. Against current members of the SEC Purdue is 11-7, but many of those matchups have occurred in bowl games or when the opponent was not in the SEC. In fact, of those 18 games against SEC foes, nine were against either Missouri or Texas A&M, who were not in the conference at the time of the game. That makes Purdue 4-5 all-time against the league.

Purdue has not faced an SEC team in a regular season game since playing at Vanderbilt on October 3rd, 1942. That’s 75 years since we have had a scheduled game against a Southeastern Conference foe, and this will only be the 7th regular season game against an SEC foe. Purdue played Vanderbilt in 1941 and 1942 (losing both games), Mississippi in 1929 (winning 27-7), and Kentucky all the way back in 1895, 1914, and 1915. The SEC was not even founded until 1932, as it was mostly the Southern Conference before that.

So yeah, it is very, very rare that Purdue has a scheduled game against an SEC foe.

This should be a very interesting game, however. I think most Purdue fans would be satisfied with a split in the first two games: beating Ohio but losing to Louisville (while being competitive). After consecutive SEC east championships the last two years have not been kind to Missouri. They have gone 5-7, then 4-8, missing a bowl game each year. What Purdue has now is an opportunity. Even though this is a road game, the Boilers at least have a chance against an opponent that is also trying to rebuild.

Missouri Tigers

2016 Record: 4-8, 2-6 SEC East

Bowl Result: none

Blog Representation: Rock M Nation

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 6-2

Last Purdue win: 28-25 on 12/27/1980 in Liberty Bowl

Last Missouri win: 14-7 on 9/26/1953 at Missouri

Head Coach: Barry Odom (4-8 in 2nd year)

Last Season for the Tigers:

Last year was the first season for new coach Barry Odom, who took over for Gary Pinkel. Pinkel’s offense in 2015 made the Shoopfense look explosive. In 6 of 12 games in 2015 the Tigers scored 9 points or less. What made that so frustrating is that the defense only gave up more than 30 points once, and that was a 31-13 loss to Mississippi State. The offense had losses of 9-6, 10-3, 19-8, 21-3, and 28-3 in 2015. Missouri scored just 163 points total in 2015. By comparison, Purdue’s atrocious 2013 season had Purdue scoring 179 points in the same number of games. Even then, Missouri’s defense was good enough to get it to 5-7 in 2015.

Last year the offense was better, but the team dipped to 4-8. The Tigers blew up Eastern Michigan (61-21) and Delaware State (79-0), scoring 140 points in just two games. The Tigers also beat Vanderbilt 26-17 and Arkansas 28-24. It appeared that the offense was fixed, but the defense… Oh, the defense.

After giving up just 194 points in 2-15 Missouri gave up 378 last season (while still scoring 377). Tennessee beat them 63-37 in a shootout. Middle Tennessee State came in an upset the Tigers 51-45. If you want to know how Purdue quarterbacks did against them Danny Etling threw for 216 yards against them in a 42-7 win for LSU last year.

This could be a fun little non-conference shootout. If Purdue’s offense gets on track early expect to see a lot of points from both teams.

Missouri Offense

What can make this game exciting is a pair of experienced junior quarterbacks that threw for a ton of yards last season. David Blough led the Big Ten in passing yardage (even if his efficiency left a lot to be desired). Missouri’s Drew Lock was pretty good with 3,399 yards and 23 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. He completed 54.6% of his passes and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel is expecting big things from him.

What should help lock is the return of his entire offensive line. Every player who started at least one game last year is back for the tigers. Tyler Howell, Kevin Pendleton, and Paul Adams were all 12 game starters. A.J. Harris and Case Cook are also very promising returnees. This is a line that has experience and depth, both qualities that Purdue lacks.

Missouri also returns plenty of talent at the skill positions. Damarea Crockett had an excellent freshman season rushing last year with 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior Ish Witter was also very good with 750 yards and 6 TDs. That’s a solid 1-2 punch that can feast if Purdue’s run defense continues to be awful.

At receiver, J’Mon Moore was very productive with 62 receptions for 1,012 yards and 8 touchdowns. Dimetrios Mason (47-587-3) and Johnathan Johnson (24-435-2) also return as the top receivers. Basically, every key contributor on this offense comes back form a unit that averaged 31.4 points and gained more than 6,000 yards in 2016.

The potential is there for this offense to be explosive, and that should concern Purdue fans. Purdue’s run defense was especially bad last year, giving up 238.4 yards per game as running back after running back shredded the ridiculous 4-2-5 formation. Maybe this changes with competent coaching, but both Louisville and Missouri will be major tests.

Missouri Defense

While the offense was pretty good and could be better in 2017 for Missouri, the defense continues to have a lot of questions. Missouri’s run defense gave up almost as much as Purdue’s last year. Teams ran for 231.9 yards per game against the Tigers and 28 touchdowns.

Like Purdue, Missouri has some questions on the defensive line in terms of depth. A.J. Logan and Terry Beckner Jr. look to be the starting tackles up front. Marcell Frazier is a good defensive end that can get to the quarterback. He had 8.5 sacks last year and Nate Howard is expected to man the other end spot. In reading their defensive line preview at Rock M Nation it reminds me a lot of Purdue. There is some talent, but depth and actual production are concerns.

At linebacker there are also questions, especially when Rock M Nation titled their preview of that position, “Missouri has a lot of interesting linebackers and no sure things”. They have experience, but Rock M Nation bemoaned missed tackles and injuries for their troubles. This should sound familiar for anyone who has watched Purdue the last four years.

The secondary also looks to be in flux. Rock M Nation is praying that DeMarkus Acy and Christian Holmes are the answer at cornerback. There are also no sure things at safety, but Anthony Sherrils and Cam Hilton will probably get the first chances at starting.

Overall, the Missouri defense reads a lot like Purdue’s defense. They were awful against the run last year, not great against the pass, have some talent, but nothing is really proven yet. That is yet another reason this game has shootout potential.

Missouri Special Teams

J.D. Dellinger should give Purdue and advantage here. The sophomore settled in nicely after hitting a game-winning field goal at Illinois last season. Missouri, meanwhile, used three different kickers and was a combined 5 of 12 on field goals. Tucker McCann did hit form 55 yards, but was 4 of 10 otherwise. Cory Fatony has the punter spot locked down after averaging an impressive 43.85 yards per punt.

Missouri needs to find answers in the return game as it averaged less than 20 yards per kickoff return. Johnathan Johnson is a dangerous punt returner, however, with a 14 yard average and one return for a touchdown.

Game Outlook

I don’t think this is the automatic loss that some are making it out to be. Missouri is kind of like a bizarre Purdue. They haven’t been as bad as us the last two seasons, but they have had their struggles. The defense was excellent two years ago and the offense was really bad. Last season the two switched. Now they are seeking some sort of equilibrium.

This has the potential to be an exciting game with two bad run defenses from a year ago and some good talent in the backfield. I like Markell Jones, Richie Worship, Brian Lankford-Johnson, and D.J. Knox in our backfield. The question, as always, will be Purdue’s offensive line. We’re basically trying to build one with two grad transfers and a JuCo transfer because the otherwise returning parts from last year were pretty bad.

Don’t be surprised if this game gets into a 45-42 shootout. Both teams have good quarterbacks and weapons to use offensively against suspect defenses.

Way-too-early Prediction

For Purdue, I think it is an early statement game. We’re not used to succeeding in these games because Hazell failed miserably in each one. He was trounced at Cincinnati in year 1, dicktripped at home against Central Michigan in year two as a sign of things to come, blew the Marshall game in year three, and got blown out at home by Cincinnati last year. If Purdue can pull off a win in Columbia it would be a major step forward and the first sign of positive progress under coach Brohm. Missouri 49, Purdue 45