Southeast Missouri State (1-0) at (6) Missouri (1-0)
Saturday, September 6th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Loaded with returning talent, the sixth-ranked Missouri Tigers will attempt to score their second win in as many games to open the season as they host a seemingly overmatched Southeast Missouri State squad.
The Redhawks are 1-12 against FBS teams since moving to the FCS level in 1992. They opened their season last week with a thrilling 35-28 victory over Southwest Baptist in overtime. Coach Tony Samuel is 8-15 in his third season at SEMO.
As for Missouri, it is led by Gary Pinkel who is 38-34 in his seventh year with the program. Pinkel led his squad to a thrilling 52-42 decision over a strong Illinois squad in the opener last weekend. The Tigers, who emerged as national title contenders a year ago, are 7-0 against FCS teams. Considering that Missouri has played its last five games away from home, including four straight at neutral sites, it is nice to return to Columbia for this weekend's contest.
Missouri won its only previous meeting with Southeast Missouri State in 1936 by a final of 20-0.
The ground attack for SEMO struggled mightily in the opener against Southwest Baptist, accounting for only 64 rushing yards and an average of 1.9 yards per carry. Fortunately, however, the passing game was strong enough to pick up the slack. Houston Lillard connected on 27-of-39 passes for 387 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked seven times but showed a great deal of toughness to fight through the pressure. Wideout Miles Edwards was nothing short of sensational, as he made 10 grabs for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Just a sophomore, Edwards made 34 catches for 480 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman. He averaged 14.1 yards per catch as a rookie and will be counted on heavily this season. As for Lillard, he is a senior who threw for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing time with injury.
The star of the show defensively for SEMO in the win over Southwest Baptist was Eddie Calvin who had three interceptions in the first half of the game and also had seven tackles and one pass break up. Calvin's defense surrendered 30 first downs and 541 total yards in the clash, including 243 on the ground. The Redhawks yielded 5.4 yards per rushing attempt, poor by any standards. Sure, 298 passing yards were allowed, but considering that Southwest Baptist attempted 51 passes and completed 33 balls, the 9.0 yards per completion has to be viewed as a victory for the defense, as does the total of four interceptions.
"When you think of Missouri's spread offense, we'd like to be able to run the ball well," said coach Pinkel in his weekly press conference following the win over Illinois. The Tigers rushed for 226 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry against Illinois, a tremendous compliment to a passing attack that features a Heisman-caliber quarterback. Derrick Washington ran for 130 yards and two scores on just 19 carries. Chase Daniel, the team's star signal caller, added 46 yards on the ground, but he did most of his damage with his arm.
Daniel completed 26-of-45 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception. Chase Coffman made nine catches for 120 yards and a score. As for all-purpose threat Jeremy Maclin, who returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score, he left the game with an ankle injury, but coach Pinkel expects him to be on the field this weekend. "We have to fix a lot of things out there that we did wrong but we also did a lot of good things as well so we�re excited about the fact that we�re getting better," said Daniel upon reflecting on the effort against Illinois.
Speaking about his team's defensive effort against Illinois, Pinkel said: "The first half we played great. But you can't give up big plays in the second half, and not have a big effect on the game. I think all those things we can coach and we can get better at." The biggest problem for the Missouri defense was that it couldn't seem to slow down the passing attack of the Illini. With 451 passing yards on 26 completions, Illinois was able to make some big plays through the air. Five passing touchdowns were thrown against the Tigers, and Pinkel is obviously not happy about that.
Fortunately, Missouri did a tremendous job against the run, limiting the Illini to 81 yards on the ground. Stryker Sulak was sensational in the win, as the Tigers' standout had five TFLs, including three sacks.
"We need to become a better football team," said coach Pinkel after the season opener. The fact that Missouri is motivated to show improvement this week is bad news for SEMO. Expect the Tigers to crush the Redhawks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 49, Southeast Missouri State 10
09/03 12:09:53 ET