The focus will be on the youthful backfields when Missouri visits Connecticut for a non-conference matchup Saturday. Needing multiple wins to become bowl eligible, both teams will have to mount their runs with freshmen tailbacks after losing their starters to injuries in recent contests.
Missouri, which hammered Idaho 68-21 to snap a five-game losing streak last time out, might have to go the rest of the season without star running back Damarea Crockett. The sophomore, who rushed for 1,062 yards in 2016 and averaged six yards per 80 carries this season, is listed as week-to-week with a shoulder injury, but unlikely to play for some time. UConn, which has won two straight for the first time since 2015, lost all-purpose specialist Arkeel Newsome for at least three weeks with a chest injury. Newsome leads the team with 625 yards from scrimmage, has five touchdowns and has been a huge part in the Huskies’ improved offense in recent weeks.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Missouri -13
ABOUT MISSOURI (2-5): The Tigers, who are 0-4 in SEC play, got 97 yards on the ground from freshman Larry Rountree III on 12 carries against Idaho. Missouri has cranked up the offense recently with a combined 62 points in losses at Kentucky and Georgia prior to its explosion against the Vandals in which it scored five touchdowns in the first quarter. Quarterback Drew Lock completed 23-of-33 passes for 467 yards and six touchdowns last week, falling one TD pass short of the school record he set in a season-opening 72-43 victory over Missouri State.
ABOUT UCONN (3-4): Freshmen Kevin Mensah (210 yards on 46 carries) and Nate Hopkins (289 yards, 75 carries, seven touchdowns) will be the primary running backs in Newsome’s absence. “I’m going to miss tossing (Newsome) the ball and watch him weave through the defense,” UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs told reporters. Shirreffs was 23-for-29 for 372 yards passing and one touchdown in UConn’s 20-14 victory over Tulsa last week.
1. UConn ranks last in the nation, allowing 373.4 passing yards a game.
2. Missouri’s J’Mon Moore caught 11 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown against Idaho.
3. Missouri defeated UConn 9-6 in 2015 in the only previous meeting.
PREDICTION: Missouri 45, UConn 32