COLUMBIA, Mo. — The starting quarterback is out, the offensive line is in tatters and the opponent apparently is without flaw.
No wonder Missouri is a three-touchdown underdog to top-ranked Alabama heading into today’s game.
Coming off a deflating upset loss at home to Vanderbilt, Missouri (3-3, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) is still seeking that elusive first SEC victory.
Alabama (5-0, 2-0) has won eight in a row by 19 or more points, and it’s been five years since its last loss to an unranked opponent. Next up is an unranked opponent flopping big-time in its debut season in the SEC.
That leaves Nick Saban to conjure adversity, and he portrays the school’s first visit to Missouri since 1978, and just the fourth overall meeting between the schools, as a major challenge. Perhaps that’s out of deference for his former Kent State teammate, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.
Earlier this week, Saban pointed out the frequent upsets this season while chiding reporters who perhaps have prejudged this an easy win.
“The teams that most of you in this room make head and shoulders above other teams obviously showed you how badly you can be mistaken,” Saban said. “I know I can be mistaken and get criticized, but you all are badly mistaken when you make teams so much better than everybody else.”
Missouri has a bit of history to lean on. Oklahoma was No. 1 in the BCS, and No. 3 in the poll, before getting knocked off 36-27 in Columbia, Mo., in 2010.