Missouri Tigers Must Start Season Strong

Kim Klement, USA TODAY SPORTS

After a disappointing 5-7 season in 2012, the Missouri Tigers are hoping for better things this season. In its first year in the Southeastern Conference last season, the Tigers were battered and bruised, literally, and the team came up short of expectations.

Now, with head coach Gary Pinkel reportedly on the hot seat in Columbia, Missouri must show that it can compete in the rugged SEC.

Missouri opens its season on Saturday, hosting the Murray State Racers at Memorial Stadium. Mizzou is 12-0 all-time against teams from the Football Championship Subdivision, and they hope to make it a baker’s dozen this weekend.

While this game looks like an easy win for the Tigers and it should be, it is important for Mizzou to start fast this season. The schedule is light on the front end, but gets more treacherous as SEC play begins. If the Tigers can build confidence in their first four games, it would help them as they head into the conference portion of the schedule.

Individually, quarterback James Franklin needs to show that he is healthy and ready to be the leader that Pinkel expects him to be. Franklin, who beat out Corbin Berkstresser and Maty Mauk for the starting job in fall camp, was stellar as a sophomore, but struggled last season. His play this year could determine the fate of the Tigers (and Pinkel).

Henry Josey is also back for Mizzou after missing all of last year with a knee injury. If Josey can return to the form he had two seasons ago, his running could be a nice compliment to Franklin and the passing game. Starting the year by winning its first four games is probably the only way Missouri will have a chance to be bowl-eligible. And that all starts on Saturday against Murray State.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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