SEC Football: Missouri vs. Indiana Preview

By Matt Virnig
James Franklin, Missouri Tigers
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubting that if you are a fan of high-scoring offenses and shootouts with a lot of points, then the Missouri-Indiana game is the game for you.

The Missouri Tigers and Indiana Hoosiers with their prolific spread offenses are getting ready to square off Saturday night at 8 EST at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, televised on the Big Ten Network. The Mizzou-Indiana matchup marks the 11th matchup all-time between the two programs. Indiana leads the series 6-2-2 going in.

Both programs are coming off a losing season from a year ago – the Tigers went 5-7 in their inaugural season in the SEC and the Hoosiers finished with a 4-8 clip in 2012.

Tigers coach Gary Pinkel is in his 12th season at the helm in Columbia. His mission this season is trying to get the Tigers back to relevance in the SEC after breaking his mark of sending Mizzou to eight consecutive bowl games before last season. In all fairness, the Tigers had the No. 2 strength of schedule in all of NCAA with a tough SEC slate in the team’s first season in the league. Hoosiers head coach, former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, 7-20 in three seasons, comes in 6-1 against Missouri after his days in the Big 12 as an Oklahoma offensive assistant/offensive coordinator under Bob Stoops in Norman. Tempers in the Hoosier state are boiling over after back-to-back losing seasons after going 1-11 in 2011 and 4-8 last season and that the program has only been to one bowl game in 19 seasons.

On offense, the two clubs have talented quarterbacks that can sling the rock around the yard. The Hoosier signal caller Nate Sudfield has gone 60-for-85 for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns through three games. Kevin Wilson and Indiana are exceptional, averaging 339 yards per game, when they’re attacking through the air and running a quick-strike, fast paced offense. On the other sideline, Tigers senior dual threat quarterback James Franklin has shined with his arm and legs so far this season for Mizzou. The senior gutted the Toledo defense last weekend, throwing for 16-of-25 for 212 in the 38-23 victory and rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries in the game as well.

The Tigers and Hoosiers also bring added dimensions in their offenses with talented athletes on offense that will give the defenses fits throughout the night.

Missouri running backs Henry Josey and Russell Hanbrough will play a crucial role as offensive coordinator Josh Henson will look to pound the ground early as well as in the air. Both will get a heavy dose of handoffs throughout the game, and it will be interesting to see how the Hoosiers linebacker corps of Griffen Dahlstrom, David Cooper and Forisse Hardin run-fit throughout the game. The Tigers will look to connect with their threats, 6-foot-6 sophomore wide receiver phenom Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas early to gauge the secondary.

The Hoosiers’ Stephen Houston at running back is very explosive and shifty from the backfield. He is a major complement for the aerial assault that the Hoosiers will unleash against the Tigers. Cody Latimer, Ted Bolser, Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes are just as good as the Tigers threats downfield and have been targeted six times per game or more in each game this season. Three Hoosier receivers have caught three or more touchdowns in the first three games of 2013.

This an intriguing matchup with two high-powered offenses on display on a silver platter for most of the nation to see. It looks like the team whose defense can make the most stops will come with a victory on Saturday. With two of the best corners in the nation in Randy Ponder and E.J. Gaines and a Hoosier defense that was ranked 121st last season in pass defense with very little experience, Missouri has better talent and their offense is by far a lot better than Indiana’s defense.

Mizzou wins 44-31 in a shootout and goes 3-0 going into the next weekend’s matchup against Arkansas State in Columbia.

Matt Virnig is a SEC Writer for, Follow him on Twitter @MatthewVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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