ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – The University of Central Florida is stepping out of conference Saturday to welcome in the newest member of the Southeastern Conference to Orlando. But the University of Missouri team that UCF faces is in deep trouble of seeing its season spin out of control.
The Tigers entered the SEC this season with high hopes of competing with the upper echelon teams in the conference. After a solid performance against Georgia for three-and-a-half quarters, the Tigers followed with a non-conference victory over Arizona State of the Pac-12.
The Tigers then went on the road for the first time in SEC play last Saturday and were completely annihilated by the South Carolina Gamecocks. Missouri gave up multiple big plays and after roughly midway through the second quarter, never seriously threatened the Gamecocks.
Missouri was dominated on the offensive and defensive lines and the Gamecocks’ special teams helped keep the field short for South Carolina. Put simply, Missouri was manhandled by a superior team.
Part of Missouri’s issue can be laid squarely on the shoulder of starting quarterback James Franklin. A season after leading Missouri, “Frank the Tank” isn’t playing with the same confidence or decisiveness after off-season shoulder surgery.
Mizzou scheduled the game at UCF hoping to get inroads to the lucrative Florida recruiting talent now that the Tigers are part of the SEC. But Tiger fans expecting Missouri to walk in and walk over UCF will be in for a surprise.
The Knights are allowing just 21.7 points per game and have surrendered just 565 passing yards in the first three games. UCF also had a week off to prepare for the Tigers after last playing on September 15, beating Florida International University.
Missouri’s hope for a solid season in the SEC and a possible bowl bid are riding on the game Saturday. If Mizzou falls to UCF, the rest of the schedule doesn’t set up for a lot of victories.
The Tigers play Vanderbilt next week and then welcome in the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to Columbia, Missouri on October 13. After a reprieve against Kentucky the next week, Mizzou travels in consecutive weeks to Florida and Tennessee before playing Syracuse at home and Texas A&M on the road to close the season.