When/where: 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
TV/radio: ESPN; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)
The series: Missouri leads 5-1
The line: Missoury by 2 1/2
What’s at stake
For Missouri, a spot in the SEC championship game. It must win its final two games, at Mississippi and at home against Texas A&M, to win the SEC East outright and earn a berth in the conference title game Dec. 7 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. If the Tigers lose either game, South Carolina, which handed Missouri its only loss in double overtime, plays for the SEC title.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin is sharp. Franklin hasn’t started the Tigers’ last four games because of a sprained shoulder, but he resumed throwing three weeks ago and got in some extra work during the bye week. Through the first six games, Franklin had completed 67.7 percent of his passes. If he’s accurate and has velocity on his throws, Missouri will be tough to stop.
Missouri struggles to get to Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace. When Wallace has time to throw, he’s been lethal. After managing just two sacks in three of four previous games, the Tigers racked up seven sacks Nov. 9 at Kentucky. A similar performance could put a serious damper on The Grove’s party atmosphere.
Three things about Mississippi
1 The Rebels are rolling right now on offense. Last week against Troy, Mississippi racked up a school-record 751 yards, which is the fifth-most in SEC history. Coach Hugh Freeze’s offense has topped 500 yards in four straight games.
2 Mississippi’s defense has also improved, allowing 389 yards or fewer in the last four games. The Rebels, who are in the midst of a six-game homestand, outgained LSU 525-388 on Oct. 16 and nearly knocked off Texas A&M.
3 The Rebels are young, having played 12 true freshmen this season, which ranks as the 11th-most among FBS programs. Six true freshmen have started this season for Mississippi.
Missouri’s wide receivers vs. Mississippi’s secondary: The Tigers are banged up on the outside with senior L’Damian Washington (toe) and sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham (ankle) both dealing with nagging injuries. Against a secondary that has allowed only nine passing touchdowns in 10 games led by junior free safety Cody Prewitt, who is tied for the SEC lead with four interceptions, Missouri needs to win those downfield battles outside for Franklin.
Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri 31-20
Mississippi has won four straight games, including a victory against LSU, since a three-game slide with losses to Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M. The Rebels are a dangerous team, especially at home. Of course, Missouri has so much to play for and has a more experienced team. Franklin’s return also provides a psychological edge.
MISSOURI (9-1, 5-1 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Murray State||W, 58-14|
|Sept. 7||Toledo||W, 38-23|
|Sept. 21||at Indiana||W, 45-28|
|Sept. 28||Arkansas State||W, 41-19|
|Oct. 5||at Vanderbilt||W, 51-28|
|Oct. 12||at Georgia||W, 41-26|
|Oct. 19||Florida||W, 36-17|
|Oct. 26||South Carolina||L, 27-24 (2OT)|
|Nov. 2||Tennessee||W, 31-3|
|Nov. 9||at Kentucky||W, 48-17|
|Saturday||at Mississippi||6:45 p.m.|
|Nov. 30||Texas A&M||6:45 p.m.|
MISSISSIPPI (7-3, 3-3 SEC)
|Aug. 29||at Vanderbilt||W, 39-35|
|Sept. 7||Southeast Missouri||W, 31-13|
|Sept. 14||at Texas||W, 44-23|
|Sept. 28||at Alabama||L, 25-0|
|Oct. 5||at Auburn||L, 30-22|
|Oct. 12||Texas A&M||L, 41-38|
|Oct. 19||LSU||W, 27-24|
|Oct. 26||Idaho||W, 59-14|
|Nov. 9||Arkansas||W, 34-24|
|Nov. 16||Troy||W, 51-21|
|Nov. 28||at Mississippi State||6:30 p.m.|
Tod Palmer, email@example.com