Week 7 - Alabama at Missouri

Posted Oct 10, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions & Game Preview - Alabama at Missouri

Alabama (5-0) at Missouri (3-3) Oct. 13, 3:30, CBS

Here's The Deal: When the schedule first came out, this looked like a possible trap game for the Tide. Missouri has a recently history of playing top teams tough in Columbia, and there was some though that an offense with a crisp midrange, up-tempo passing game could give the Bama defense a hard time. While that all still might be true, it's going to take a serious turnaround for an inconsistent Tiger team that's 0-3 as a member of the SEC after missing the putt in a home loss to Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, the nation's No. 1 team got a chance to rest a bit for the second half push.

There have been plenty of interesting moments over the first half of the season, and while everyone else is battling for spots in the rankings while looking to make a big statement, Alabama keeps on rolling along with the nation's No. 1 defense and an air-tight offense that shows up, gets the job done, and goes home. Complacency is the biggest enemy for a team this good, but Nick Saban and his staff are doing everything possible to keep the team pressing forward and motivated. If Mizzou could beat 6-0 and BCS No. 1 Oklahoma at home in 2010, maybe it can find the magic again under head coach Gary Pinkel.

To have any shot, the Tigers have to get the offense working. The school that cranked out Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Brad Smith, Blaine Gabbert and so many great attacks over the years is 12th in the SEC in yards and has yet to score more than 24 points against an FBS team. So far the Tigers are 3-0 when scoring 21 points or more and 0-3 when scoring fewer. Alabama has allowed a grand total of 35 points on the season and has yet to give up more than 14 in a game.

Can Missouri make this interesting? It has screwed up Alabama before. This is just the fourth time the two programs have met with Missouri holding a slightly-surprising 2-1 lead highlighted by a win in the 1968 Gator Bowl and a 20-7 victory in the 1975 opener for the only loss of the Tide's season.

Why Alabama Might Win: Beyond the defensive front that isn't allowing a thing up the middle, and glossing over the ultra-effective offense that ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency, and beyond the tremendous pass rush, the Tide simply isn't screwing anything up. It's not giving anyone a chance to breathe by not allowing any sort of a break. Fourth in the nation in penalties, the Tide has been flagged just 20 times for a paltry 33.6 yards per game. First in the nation in turnover margin, AJ McCarron has yet to throw a pick and the team's three fumbles have been offset by 15 takeaways. Florida Atlantic is the only team to not give the ball away at least three times to the swarming D. Is Missouri going to be sharp enough to make its own break? Maybe, but it still might not matter.

Why Missouri Might Win: Despite the issues moving the ball and the problems with consistency, like Alabama, Missouri isn't screwing itself up with a bunch of mistakes. Penalties haven't really been a problem and the seven turnovers have been offset by an aggressive defense that's been fantastic at getting behind the line making an SEC-leading 53 tackles for loss. With 14 takeaways, 15 sacks and sound play across the board, the defense should be able to match up well with the Tide midrange attack. The line is just good enough to hold its own for a little while against the Bama offensive front. The Tigers will get to McCarron, but the back seven has to be ready to make plays and keep everything in front of them.

What To Watch Out For: It's Corbin Berkstresser's Missouri offense to run. The redshirt freshman is a dart-thrower with a crisp, accurate throwing motion and nice mobility, but can he match the playmaking ability of James Franklin, the starter who went down with a knee injury against Vanderbilt? Berkstresser was awful off the bench against Vanderbilt, completing 9-of-30 passes for 189 yards and a score, and now he has to prove he can make every right decision and every right play against the best defense in the game.

What Will Happen: Berkstresser will be better than he was against Vanderbilt, and it won't matter a lick. Missouri simply doesn't have the playmakers on offense or the depth on the defensive front to hold up or keep this close. Alabama will blast away with the running game, come up with stop after stop on defense, and then will move on.

CFN Prediction: Alabama 34 … Missouri 10
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Alabama -21.5 O/U: 43
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 3