SEC-Big 12 Preview 2015 – Missouri 2017-04-25T11:39:43+00:00

Allstate Sugar Bowl Looks at Big 12-SEC 2015The Allstate Sugar Bowl secured its future through January 2026 with the announcement that it would host the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences in eight of the 12 years between 2014 and 2025. If the champion of either or both leagues is selected for the College Football Playoff, a replacement team from that conference will play in the Sugar Bowl. In the four seasons that the Sugar Bowl is not hosting the Big 12 and the SEC (2014, 2017, 2020, 2023), it will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal.

After last year’s Playoff Semifinal game, this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl will be the first as the official destination for the top available teams from the Big 12 and the SEC. To lead into the season, the Bowl is providing brief previews of each team in the leagues.

2014 Record: 11-3 (7-1, first in SEC East)

Bowl Projections
Athlon: Music City Bowl vs. Iowa
Sporting News: Tax Slayer Bowl vs. Penn State
Phil Steele: Texas Bowl vs. Texas
ESPN (Schlabach):
Belk Bowl vs. Virginia Tech
ESPN (McMurphy): Outback Bowl vs. Nebraska
AP: Belk Bowl vs. N.C. State
Music City Bowl vs. Louisville

Key Returnees
Russell Hansbrough (Sr., RB): 205 carries for 1,084 yards, 10 TDs
Maty Mauk (Jr., QB): 221-of-414, 2,648 yards, 25 TDs, 13 INTs, Manning Award Watch List
Kentrell Brothers (Sr., LB): Team-best 122 tackles, 4 TFL, 4 PBU
Michael Scherer (Jr., LB): 114 tackles, 3 TFL
Harold Brantley (Jr., DT): 54 tackles, 5 sacks
Evan Boehm (Sr., C): Rated among best centers in SEC
Sean Culkin (Jr., TE): 20 catches, 174 yards, 1 TD

Key Stat
While Missouri has an experienced quarterback returning in Maty Mauk, the Tigers lost their top four pass catchers, accounting for 175 catches, 2,285 yards and 24 touchdowns. Tight end Sean Culkin is the top returnee among the receiving corps after tallying 20 catches for 174 yards in 2014.

Key Early Games
Sept. 12 at Arkansas State (5 p.m. CT, ESPN3): Missouri’s non-league schedule is not brutal by any means but the Tigers’ second game won’t be a cakewalk as they go on the road to Jonesboro for the first time in program history and will have to deal with a potent offense led by talented quarterback Fredi Knightsen.

Sept. 26 at Kentucky (TV TBD): Mizzou opens SEC play on the road against a Wildcat team that is expected to be improved. If the Tigers hope to three-peat with another SEC East title, they will need to get on track early.

Senior Spotlight
Every year, Missouri seems to turn out high-round NFL Draft picks on defense. One of this year’s Tigers to watch is senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers (@Kentrell_Mizzou, Last year, the Oklahoma product led the team in tackles with 122 and he is the top returning tackler in the SEC for 2015. Interestingly, despite a dominating high school career at Guthrie High, the 6-1, 235-pounder was not offered scholarships to attend Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Their loss has been Missouri’s gain as he has started 28 straight games at weakside linebacker for the back-to-back SEC East champions. Despite his success, he continues to be overlooked. After being an All-SEC Second Team pick last season, he was only selected for the preseason third-team this summer. “I always had a lot of questions about how does it feel to not get recognition, how does it feel to not have people talk about you,” Brothers said in a Columbia Tribune article. “Once I get out here, whether they talk about me or not, I’m going to do what I can do to help the team win.”

YouTube Tigers
When Missouri joined the SEC three years ago, most didn’t give the Tigers much credit. After going 5-7 in their first season in the league, they have captured back-to-back SEC East titles. Here’s a look at the highlights from Mizzou’s impressive comeback victory against a hard-nosed Arkansas squad last season; the win clinched the second straight divisional title for the Tigers.