Pasquali’s Pix: Vols to rebound, Crimson Tide to escape

Missouri Athletics photo / Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri Tigers have played eight one-possession games in their last 13 contests dating to last season, going 4-4 in those close calls.

Most Southeastern Conference football teams have played three games this season decided by double digits, including Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

Then there are the cardiac kids of Missouri.

Eli Drinkwitz's Tigers followed up a shaky 23-19 dumping of Middle Tennessee on Sept. 9 with last weekend's thrilling 40-37 defeat of No. 15 Kansas State. Mizzou toppled the Wildcats on a 61-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis as time expired, giving the SEC its lone win over a ranked foe from another Power Five conference.

Close calls are nothing new for Missouri, with six of its eight league games last season decided by a touchdown or less. The Tigers went 2-4 in those six but did end the regular season with a 29-27 edging of Arkansas.

"Obviously last year we were in some single-possession games that didn't go our way, but at the end of the year, we were able to find a way to do that," Drinkwitz said Wednesday on the SEC's weekly teleconference. "Hopefully, it's that confidence and belief in each other that we're going to find a way to win in the fourth quarter. So far we've been able to do that."

Drinkwitz did admit having so many games going down to the wire takes a physical appearance toll.

"I used to be a big visor guy, because I thought I had good hair," he said. "Now, when I wear a visor, I have a clear bald spot. I'm one of the younger coaches in the SEC, too.

"It's not been good for my hair for sure."


Need a random stat?

Mizzou leads the SEC in noon Eastern kickoffs over the past five years.

"We've also played a lot of evening games on the road, and that's something that has not been good for us," Drinkwitz said. "That's more of a concern for me, because we're the furthest north team in our league, so the travel has been horrendous from that end.

"It's not great for a student-athlete's well being."


Lane Kiffin hasn't coached at Alabama since 2016, but there have been times based off his comments and social media posts when he seems at least mildly obsessed with the Crimson Tide and former boss Nick Saban.

Does that make Saturday afternoon's showdown in Tuscaloosa his own personal Super Bowl?

"I'd like to say we're only playing one top team in the country and that it's your Super Bowl, but the last time I checked, we play a lot of really good teams after this," Kiffin said. "We play LSU the following week, and they're playing as well as anybody in the country after watching them last week. We go into Georgia at some point, and they've got the longest winning streak in the country.

"We've got a lot of challenges, which happens when you play in the West and your crossover game is Georgia. This isn't about me. It's about us trying to prepare really well and play really well in a very hard place to play."


The mood has improved significantly at Florida following last Saturday's 29-16 topping of Tennessee, but Gators second-year coach Billy Napier doesn't sound like he's caught up in the euphoria.

"It's a new set of problems, right?" Napier said. "We've shown that we can respond to adversity and failure, but now we've had some success and just need the overall consistency of everybody. We've played only three games.

"I know we want to put the crown on everybody, but we have much more to prove. We know the best competition is ahead."


LSU fifth-year senior safety Greg Brooks will be on the minds of the Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks when the two SEC West foes collide Saturday.

Brooks, who spent his first three seasons at Arkansas before transferring, experienced dizziness last Wednesday, and an MRI revealed a brain tumor. He underwent surgery last Friday to remove the mass, and his status for the rest of the season is unknown.

"There are so many unanswered questions, and I don't know if I could even begin to give you the medical pieces relative to the surgery," LSU second-year coach Brian Kelly said. "I saw him in the hospital on Sunday, and he was still coming out of heavy sedation, so weren't able to have a lucid conversation.

"Before he went in, he was pretty clear about playing again this year, but that's Greg Brooks."

Brooks started all three seasons for the Razorbacks and was in his second year as an LSU starter before the surgery.


This is the fourth full weekend of SEC football, and do we know anything about Kentucky and quarterback Devin Leary?

The transfer from North Carolina State ranks 30th nationally in efficiency, having completed 58 of 95 passes (66.2%) for 852 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. The Wildcats are averaging 35.7 points per game but have yet to face anybody other than Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Akron.

"Devin is a guy I continue to have a lot of confidence in," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "I think he's going to get better with every opportunity and each game, and we know that the competition improves as we head into conference play. We've got to play good around him.

"It's never all on the quarterback even though eyes are on the quarterback at all times."

Pasquali's Pix

Florida State at Clemson: The Seminoles have scored 30 or more points in nine straight games, their longest such stretch since the 2013 national championship season. Seminoles 31, Tigers 24.

Auburn at Texas A&M: The Tigers are an impressive 25-5 in their last 30 SEC openers. Aggies 26, Tigers 24.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt: The Commodores are allowing 29.3 points per game and have eight league contests remaining. Wildcats 35, Commodores 16.

UTC at Samford: Two years ago, the Mocs ventured to Birmingham and routed the Bulldogs 55-13. Mocs 28, Bulldogs 21.

Ole Miss at Alabama: I always get these two head coaches mixed up. Crimson Tide 27, Rebels 24.

UTSA at Tennessee: The Volunteers have won 10 straight times at Neyland Stadium, which is the nation's fourth-longest home streak behind Georgia (21), Michigan (18) and Utah (16). Vols 33, Roadrunners 16.

Georgia Tech at Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are just 2-9 lifetime against the Yellow Jackets in Winston-Salem. Demon Deacons 30, Yellow Jackets 27.

UAB at Georgia: Kirby Smart reaches game No. 100 as Georgia's coach, having compiled an 84-15 record and his current 36-1 surge that includes two national titles. Bulldogs 44, Blazers 7.

Other picks:

N.C. State 35, Virginia 21

LSU 42, Arkansas 22

Florida 49, Charlotte 16

Missouri 28, Memphis 25

South Carolina 24, Mississippi State 17

Miami 41, Temple 18

Louisville 26, Boston College 23

North Carolina 20, Pittsburgh 19

Middle Tennessee 23, Colorado State 20

Michigan 37, Rutgers 14

Oregon 45, Colorado 26

Texas 30, Baylor 13

Notre Dame 27, Ohio State 24

Penn State 13, Iowa 10

USC 56, Arizona State 27

Washington 59, California 28

Utah 22, UCLA 15

Last week:

Winners — 21

Monsoon delays — 4

Pasquali is 64-11 (85.3%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at [email protected].