2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Miami Univ. at Missouri
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Sept. 3 at Missouri 17 … Miami Univ. 6
CFN Analysis: Remember, Missouri, Miami University won the MAC title last year and is strong enough to possibly do it again this year. No, the Tiger offense wasn't explosive as hoped for, and the passing game didn't exactly click with Blaine Gabbert gone, but the defense was terrific when it had to be and was great against the run. James Franklin completed 17-of-26 passes for 129 yards and a score with a pick, but he didn't push the ball down the field enough and he ended up running way too much; leading the team with 14 carries for 72 yards and a score. Blame the rough start on the excessive heat and maybe because it was the season opener, but with Arizona State up next, the offense has to find more pop in a hurry.
Miami just couldn't get anything going against the Tiger D. There were chances, and there were a few nice drives, but Zac Dysert wasn't good enough at turning drives into points and there were too many misfires in key situations. The defense did a great job against a Tiger offense that has the firepower to put up big numbers, and sort of like the Florida game to open up last year, this was a positive loss with enough to build on for the next few games. With a week off, now the RedHawks can look at Minnesota's game against USC and take some time to prepare to do more offensively. The key will be to get the receivers in space and on the move, which didn't happen against Mizzou.
(AP) COLUMBIA, Mo. -- James Franklin ran for one touchdown and passed for the clinching score in his first career start, helping No. 21 Missouri open with a 17-6 victory over stubborn Miami of Ohio on Saturday.
E.J. Gaines had an end zone interception for the Tigers, who whipped the RedHawks by 38 points in their final pre-Big 12 tuneup last season but had their struggles on both sides of the ball in 90-degree heat. Three of their first four possessions ended quickly with punts for an offense that averaged 30 points last season, and Miami of Ohio moved the ball with some success.
Miami of Ohio recovered from a 51-13 spanking at Missouri last fall to win the Mid-American Conference, and entered the opener under new coach Don Treadwell, the former Michigan State offensive coordinator, with a six-game winning streak. The RedHawks trailed 10-6 after Erik Finklea's 10-yard run late in the third quarter.
Missouri, which had been around a 20-point favorite, answered on the first play of the fourth quarter. Marcus Lucas' 10-yard catch was his first college touchdown and in his first start as the fill-in for injured Jerrell Jackson.
Dayonne Nunley's interception and 5-yard return of Franklin's overthrown pass gave Miami possession at the Missouri 19 and set up Finklea's score.
Down by 11, Miami ran out of downs at the Missouri 30 midway through the fourth quarter. Dominique Hamilton recovered quarterback Zac Dysert's fumble with 1:49 left.
Two Missouri defensive players left with injuries. Linebacker Will Ebner sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and end Jacquies Smith left with an apparent shoulder or wrist injury in the third quarter.
Franklin's 5-yard run up the middle capped a 76-yard drive late in the first quarter.
The RedHawks struggled on the kicking game, with Mason Krysinski wide left on a 41-yard field goal attempt in the first half and the extra point kick partially blocked after Finklea's score.
Miami University (0-0) at Missouri (0-0) Sept. 3, 12:00
Here's The Deal … In late September of last year, Missouri ripped apart Miami with a 21-point first quarter and a 23-point third on the way to a 51-13 layup of a non-conference game. Little did anyone know that the RedHawks would go on to win eight of their last ten games including a MAC championship and a bowl game over Middle Tennessee.
MU was awful before last season, going 3-21 in 2008 and 2009, and then the passing game started to click, the defense improved by leaps and bounds, and all of a sudden, the once mighty MAC powerhouse became a player again. It was done with plenty of smoke and mirrors, and there were some close shaves against miserable teams like Bowling Green and Akron, but wins are wins are wins, and now the program is looking to come up with a huge upset in new head coach Don Treadwell's first game. With 17 starters returning and some legitimate all-star talent, this should be more than just a cupcake breather for Mizzou.
While the RedHawks are working through a big change in the coaching staff, Missouri is going through a major shake-up of its own after losing NFL first round draft picks in quarterback Blaine Gabbert and end Aldon Smith. With a huge showdown at Arizona State coming up next, it has to show that there's life without the two superstars. But the Tigers are loaded on both sides of the ball, and quietly, very quietly, they might have the talent and the makeup to win the Big 12 title. First, they have to show that it's business as usual and they have to hold off a very dangerous MU team that's good enough to win another MAC title. Yes, the RedHawks have a legitimate chance to win, but if Mizzou is humming and everything is back to normal, this could be a repeat of last year.
Why Miami Might Win: Missouri is strong across the board, but the one area of possible concern is the secondary that has to hit the ground running with a few new starters. There are a few good players to build around, but the unit will mostly have to rely on sophomores and several untested players to hold up. Of course, the Tigers are full of good athletes and the talent level is there, but Miami has an accurate, efficient short-to-midrange passing attack with good, sound, veteran receivers who'll run crisp routes and should be able to keep the chains moving. The Tiger defensive backs will have to take a few chances and they'll have to sniff out the quick-hitters, but the RedHawks have a veteran quarterback in Zac Dysert with NFL talent and good smarts to dink and dunk the attack down the field. Unlike last year's blowout loss, Miami should be better equipped to keep up in a shootout.
Why Missouri Might Win: The Missouri defensive front should be able to hang out in the Miami backfield all game long. The RedHawk attack is designed to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands in a hurry, but even so, sacks were a huge problem last season as the offensive line struggled throughout the year to keep the pressure off. Miami allowed 35 sacks on the year and came up with zero push for a ground game that averaged a pathetic 98 yards per game. Promising running back Tracy Woods is gone after transferring, and there aren't a slew of big-time backs to keep the Missouri defense honest. It should be pin-the-ears back time for the front four as the job will be to get to the quarterback, get to the quarterback, and get to the quarterback. Even without Aldon Smith, the pass rush is supposed to be one of Missouri's major strengths, and it should show why early on.
What To Watch Out For: How good is the Miami quarterback situation? Zac Dysert is a legitimate mid-round NFL draft pick and he had to fight to win back his job. Austin Boucher stepped up and led the way to a MAC title when Dysert went down for the year with a lacerated spleen, but the 6-4, 212-pound Dysert is back and healthy and he has all the tools to pick apart the Tiger secondary. Accurate, strong, and with a big arm, he's a heady passer who should do just enough to keep the chains moving and keep the Mizzou offense off the field. However, the Tigers could have too much explosion and might not need to worry about time of possession.
Trying to be the become the next great Missouri quarterback is James Franklin, a 6-2, 225-pound sophomore with great mobility and a live arm to do a little bit of everything for the Tiger attack. He was pushed a little bit this offseason for Gabbert's job, but he constantly stepped up and proved that he was the main man to run the offense. Miami's defense isn't anything special and Franklin has to come up with a good first game as the starter, or else there will be some worry about whether or not he can handle the loaded Arizona State defense the following week. In last year's blowout over the RedHawks, Franklin completed both his pass attempts for 46 yards.
What Will Happen: The Missouri machine will roll early on. Miami is good and it has the veterans to keep it from being a first half blowout, but the Tigers will be too strong and too good on the lines. Dysert and the Miami offense will come up with yards, but the points will be hard to come by and the firepower won't be there to get back in the game after the Tigers get up big. Franklin will be terrific, and the ground game, even with star tackle Elvis Fisher out for the year with a knee injury, will roll at will.
CFN Prediction: Missouri 37 … Miami University 17
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Missouri -16.5 O/U: 47.5
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