Missouri at Connecticut
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Conn.
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: KMBZ (98.1 FM)
The line: Missouri by 12
The lowdown: Missouri is coming off a blowout win over Idaho in which Drew Lock threw five touchdowns and sat the whole fourth quarter. The Huskies are coming off a 20-14 win over Tulsa and have won two straight after starting 1-4. Missouri needs a win if it wants to keep its bowl chances alive, with a very favorable schedule awaiting in November. Missouri will be without sophomore running back Damarea Crockett, who is out after having shoulder surgery last Friday.
Missouri keys to success: Make stops on defense. Missouri set a program record the first half of the season by giving up 30 or more points for six consecutive games. The streak ended against Idaho and needs to continue if Missouri (2-5) wants to leave Connecticut with a win. The Tigers have been better at stalling opposing drives but can keep any team in the game if they can’t force more three-and-outs.
UConn keys to success: Be diverse on offense. If the Huskies can hit the Tigers on the ground and in the air it could be a long day for Barry Odom’s team. Huskies running back Nate Hopkins and wide receiver Hergy Mayala have a combined 12 touchdowns.
Key matchup: Connecticut quarterback Bryant Shirreffs against Missouri’s defensive line. The Huskies’ quarterback ranks second in the American Athletic Conference in passer rating and third in total passing yards. Missouri’s defensive line has come alive in recent weeks with the emergence of redshirt freshman Tre Williams finally giving Missouri some pass rush. Junior Terry Beckner Jr. had a pair of sacks against Idaho, which is promising. If Missouri can contain Shirreffs, the offense should be able to score enough to win.
Prediction: Missouri 37, Connecticut 24. Missouri has a very good history as a double-digit road favorite, posting a 10-2 record since 2000. Emanuel Hall catches two more touchdowns and true freshman Larry Rountree III has a big game in the absence of Crockett. The Tigers go into November with bowl hopes that suddenly don’t seem so crazy.