After a dominant bounce back victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers, a victory that was very much needed, the Missouri Tigers will play host to Southeast Missouri State. The Redhawks are ranked 19th in the STATS FCS poll and 20th in the FCS coaches poll. SEMO is coming off a 38-17 loss to another ranked team in the FCS in Montana State. This should not be much of a game for the Tigers but there are spots the Redhawks can be dangerous
The Redhawks defense is led by last years FCS Defensive Player of the Year, Zach Hall. The linebacker had 168 tackles last season, including 12 tackles for loss and two sacks and four interceptions. He was all over the field leading a SEMO defense that helped the team get back to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2010.
They won a game in those playoffs against Stony Brook before falling on the road in the 2nd round to Weber State. For Kelly Bryant and crew it is going to be important to continue to improve the ground game and keep the pass game going like it has been. The offensive line should be able to hold the Redhawks at bay like they did with the Mountaineers but there is some talent on the SEMO defense should they falter at first. If the offense sputters all game there should be some concern for Derek Dooley.
On offense, SEMO lost a 1,200-yard rusher in Marquis Terry, but Geno Hess is averaging 6.9 yards a carry taking over the role. Daniel Santacaterina returns after throwing for over 2,800 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. He’s off to a slow start this year throwing for just two touchdowns against two interceptions but the junior QB can make plays. When he does throw his favorite target is Kristian Wilkerson who had 14 touchdowns in 2018 and has both of Santacaterina’s touchdown passes this year.
For the Missouri defense, what I would like to see is more of a presence from the defensive ends on the pass rush. A lot of the rush last week came from the linebackers (hello Nick Bolton) and the defensive tackles. Chris Turner had his moments but against an FCS opponent it would be nice to see more consistancy before SEC play begins.
This should be a pick the score game for the Tigers. SEMO is a more than respectable FCS team and should be right back in the hunt for the Ohio Valley Conference title and another playoff appearance, but they can’t compete with the Tigers talent. A slow start will cause some Tiger fans to worry but this should play out like the Murray State game in 2013 where after a slow start the Tigers put it on the Racers. Put me down for a 58-14 win before the litmus test, in the form of the South Carolina Gamecocks, comes to Columbia, Missouri next week.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Watch Online: WatchESPN