Alabama took care of business as expected last Saturday with a dominant win over Arkansas. Missouri went all Missouri in losing 37-35 to South Carolina in a game that they should have won three times over. Can the Tigers be the first team in 2018 to give Alabama a competitive second half?
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Keep the offense rolling
It has been five years since a team averaged 50 points per game for a full season. In 2013 two teams achieved that mark, with Florida State and Baylor tearing up opposing defenses. That kind of mark is supposed to be out of question in the SEC, but Alabama has averaged 56 points per game through six contests so far.
The Crimson Tide is scoring at will. They have scored more than 50 in five of the six games, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa being everything Nick Saban could have asked for and then some. The sophomore has thrown for 18 touchdown passes without an interception, has hit on over 75-percent of his throws, and he is 60 points (258.4 to 198.9) ahead of Baker Mayfield’s single-season FBS passer rating record he set in winning the Heisman last year.
Tagovailoa has just been THAT good.
The Missouri defense has not been good, meaning that ‘Bama should put up another 50 burger on Saturday.
Shut down the Mizzou run game
Quarterback Drew Lock might get all the attention from NFL scouts, but the other aspect of the Tigers offense finally seemed to wake up last weekend at South Carolina.
The Missouri backfield entered the year with high expectations, with Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III both seen as backs capable of explosive performances. It hadn’t happened in 2018 until Saturday though, when Crockett (154 yards) led the attack to a season high 286 yards on the ground.
The Tigers passing game will again be without top weapon Emanuel Hall when the team visits Tuscaloosa. With that in mind, expect to see plenty of Crockett and company as Missouri look to stem the flow of the Tide’s stunningly efficient offensive machine.
Wait for Missouri to implode
Again, Missouri should have beaten the Gamecocks last Saturday but failed because they were too busy beating themselves. Among the litany of Missouri mistakes in the contest they lost by less than a field goal were 10 penalties, two horrendous special teams mistakes, and a turnover battle that they lost 0-2.
Doing that against South Carolina will see you lose by two, but doing that against Alabama will see you lose by 30.
Alabama doesn’t need Missouri to make mistakes to win this game, but history shows us that the Tigers will find ways to hurt themselves at some point during the game. If those mistakes come early, then ‘Bama will again be playing the second half of an SEC game with little on the line.