By Tommy Deas
Missouri, powered by quarterback Drew Lock, is averaging 39 points and 530 yards per game. Alabama is even better, scoring 17 more on average and gaining another 37.5 yards each time out. Jerry Jeudy is pacing Alabama’s big-play receiving corps and the running game is coming along.
Alabama’s secondary will be without Trevon Diggs, but the Crimson Tide has intercepted 10 passes and produced 19 sacks. UA is giving up 16 points and 232.5 yards per game – not the best numbers in the Nick Saban era, but still better than Missouri.
Tucker McCann has made 13 field goals for Missouri, most in the SEC this season, and he hasn’t missed an extra point. Kicks have been an adventure for the Crimson Tide, which hasn’t punted in the last two outings. Josh Jacobs and Jaylen Waddle are explosive returners.
Alabama’s Nick Saban has kept the Crimson Tide rolling despite major changes on his coaching staff after last season. He keeps finding capable assistants like Dan Enos, who coaches UA quarterbacks. Barry Odom has kept Missouri on course in his third season.
It’s homecoming at Alabama. Crimson Tide players should be up for a home game, especially a night game where students are likely to be engaged and energized. Missouri is coming off a tough loss, but Alabama is carrying momentum from its run through the first half of the season.
Alabama 49, Missouri 20
The Crimson Tide hasn’t been taken into the fourth quarter yet this season, and Missouri may have enough firepower to do so. The Tigers will have trouble containing Alabama, but the Tigers’ passing game will test UA’s thin secondary. It won’t be close, but it may be somewhat competitive.
Alabama 48, Missouri 7
Alabama defense gets it done. The offense produces huge numbers against the Mizzou defense. Tua Tagovailoa throws for at least 300 yards by halftime.
Alabama 47, Missouri 17
The trendy pick is 85-47 or something in that neighborhood but surely some normalcy — that’s the new normalcy, not the old “21-7” normalcy — will prevail.
Alabama 54, Missouri 21
South Carolina’s backup quarterback passed for 249 yards and three touchdowns on Missouri even in a rainstorm last week. Drew Lock will score some points here, but imagine what Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense will do.
Alabama 50, Missouri 18
Two words. Drew Lock. He has led Missouri to be one of the top offenses in the SEC. Although the Crimson Tide defense is facing a challenge with Lock, the question is – is the Missouri defense ready for Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts to lead this rapid-scoring Alabama offense?
Alabama 52, Missouri 24
While the offense continues to blister opponents at a record pace, the Alabama defense has now drawn the concern of coaches and fans. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock will challenge the Crimson Tide but won’t be able to keep up with Tua Tagovailoa and his plethora of weapons.
Alabama 56, Missouri 21
Drew Lock has struggled against SEC defenses without dangerous down-field threat Emanuel Hall. But whether Hall is healthy enough to play or not won’t stop Alabama’s offense from scoring at will. The Crimson Tide will dominate, even if its secondary gives up a few big plays to Missouri’s quick offensive attack.
Alabama 59, Missouri 14
The Alabama defense gets its biggest test of the season with Drew Lock and the Tigers, who are averaging 39 points per game. It really won’t matter much if Tua Tagovailoa and the Tide offense continue their offensive onslaught.
Alabama 48, Missouri 17
Alabama’s defense needs to redeem itself after last weekend, and it will. But Drew Lock and Missouri’s offense will sneak some points in.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
By Ben Stansell
Saivion Smith, Jr./DB, 6-1/200
Key Stat: Started at cornerback the first three games of the season
Buzz: Starting cornerback Trevon Diggs sustained a broken foot against Arkansas last week, so Alabama will need another defensive back to step into his starting role. The likeliest candidate is Smith. Although Smith was supplanted by Patrick Surtain Jr. after three games, he’s shown that he’s capable of good play, having made 14 tackles and pick-six this year.
Josh Jacobs, Jr./RB, 5-10/216
Key Stat: Has scored at least one touchdown in five of Alabama’s six games
Buzz: Even in a crowded backfield, Jacobs has found a way to distinguish himself as a versatile weapon on the ground, through the air and on special teams. Jacobs has a 77-yard kick return touchdown to go along with the six rushing scores he’s recorded. As a receiver he’s caught five passes for 66 yards.
Hale Hentges,Sr./TE, 6-5/254
Key Stat: Two of Hentges’ three receptions have been for touchdowns
Buzz: Although Hentges only has 14 receptions in 49 career games, he’s been an invaluable blocker for the Crimson Tide. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a threat in the passing game, however. He snagged two touchdowns against Texas A&M this season. Since Hentges grew up just outside of Columbia, Missouri, this matchup is of particular importance to him.
Drew Lock, Sr./QB, 6-4/225
Key Stat: Threw for an SEC record 44 touchdowns last season
Buzz: Lock hasn’t been able to replicate the historical success he had last season, but he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. He’s third in the SEC in passing yards (1,487) and fourth in touchdowns (11). Defensive communication will be critical to Alabama’s ability to slow down Lock, who’s attempted more passes than anyone else in the conference.
Terez Hall, Sr./LB, 6-2/230
Key Stat: Tied for second on the team with 29 tackles
Buzz: Hall is second on Missouri with 29 tackles, but he paces the Tigers in sacks (2) and tackles for a loss (4). Having played in 40 games in his career, Hall also brings experience and leadership to Missouri’s defense. The Tigers have allowed the second fewest rushing yards in the SEC. Hall has been a major part of that.
Albert Okwuegbunam, R-Soph./TE, 6-5/255
Key Stat: Caught 11 touchdowns last season, tied for first in the SEC
Buzz: Okwuegbunam, or Albert O. as he’s also called, is one of quarterback Drew Lock’s favorite targets. He had a breakout 2017 campaign, hauling in 29 catches for 415 yards. Okwuegbunam has caught almost as many passes (27) already this season, but hasn’t scored touchdowns at the same clip. Arkansas’ tight ends found success against Alabama. Okwuegbunam may as well.