Last season the Missouri game was a bit of a turning point as Purdue won in an unexpected blowout. This year it is a turning point as the Boilers desperately need to regain momentum after an 0-2 start. To learn more about the Tigers I spoke with Pete Scantlebury of Rock M Nation for this week’s Q&A.
1. Purdue was surprisingly dominant last season in Columbia, then Missouri got it together to wins 8 of its last 9 coming into this one. What changed?
Things didn’t come together for Missouri immediately after the Purdue game, but what did happen is the Tigers began to become competent on defense while the offense hit another gear. Emanuel Hall and Albert Okwuegbunam hadn’t broken out yet for Missouri. From midseason on, they were arguably among the best at their positions nationally. The passing offense with Drew Lock is as efficient as its ever been, and the defense seems more settled and composed -- although there’s still a lot to prove there.
2. Drew Lock struggled against Purdue but is showing so far that he is one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Since our pass defense just struggled big time in the rain against a MAC defense how much confidence does this give you?
I mean, I’m not the one throwing passes, but I would imagine that Missouri sees an opportunity to get some chunk plays through the air. Missouri will get its yards through the air regardless of opponent this season, in my opinion, but it’s going to have to figure out the ground game if it really wants to succeed. Currently, no running back is averaging over 4 YPC this season.
3. Missouri has won a pair of blowouts so far. Were the Tigers that good or was the competition that bad?
I think the answer can be both. UT-Martin is an FCS team -- Missouri did what it should have. Wyoming is a competent but definitely not stellar Group of Five team. Missouri, again, comprehensively beat them. Missouri seems like an improved team, even over the second half of last year. So, yeah, the competition hasn’t been great, but Missouri has looked pretty good in dominating those opponents so far.
4. Conversely, Purdue is a bit lost right now with a pair of losses by 5 points total and feels like it has beaten itself. Do you see us as a wounded animal or a group backed into a corner at home?
I think Jeff Brohm is too good of a coach and it’s too early in the season for this to be a “The team has quit” kind of game. I think Purdue will be ready to play and I think Missouri is expecting the Boilermakers’ A game on Saturday. Fact is, without two really boneheaded penalties, Purdue could be 2-0 at this juncture.
5. How much has Mizzou’s defense improved from last season? Do you see Purdue having the success it did?
It’s a night-and-day difference for Missouri on defense. There are still questions and Purdue will be a huge test because of playmakers like Rondale Moore, but Missouri is playing assignment football and, most importantly, playing like a cohesive team. I don’t think Missouri will shut down Purdue, but if the Boilermakers struggled to score against Eastern Michigan, Missouri is playing some solid defense and I don’t think it will be a 35-3 game like it was last year.
6. It is always fun to have these night non-conference games, so do you see a shootout or a blowout?
I think we’ll see some decent yardage put up on both sides, but I do think Missouri ends this game with a comfortable (but not a blowout) win. I’m going to say the final is Missouri 38, Purdue 24.