Top takeaways from Mizzou football’s 2021 schedule

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune
Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz calls a timeout during a game against Arkansas on Dec. 5 at Faurot Field.

Missouri football will begin the 2021 season against Central Michigan on Sept. 4 at Faurot Field.

The Tigers will finish the year against rival Arkansas on Nov. 27 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, the Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday.

The league released schedules for all its teams live on SEC Network.

Here are three takeaways from Missouri's full schedule:

1. Load up early

All of Missouri's first six games are winnable. Four are at home, and perhaps the Tigers' biggest early challenge is in Week 4, with a true road game against Boston College. 

The Eagles went 6-5 last season and kept it close against Clemson and Notre Dame. How BC is viewed in the Atlantic Coast Conference — as a team on the rise with several standout players — is similar to Missouri's positioning in the SEC.

There are three games against Group of Five or FCS competition at home that must be victories for Missouri: Central Michigan, Southeast Missouri and North Texas. 

Conference matchups against Tennessee and Kentucky are no gimmies, but it's easy to look at all three rosters and see the Tigers have the most talent. Missouri snapped its five-game losing streak to the Wildcats in 2020, and who knows what kind of Tennessee team will come to Columbia in October?

The possibility of Missouri being undefeated for Texas A&M's arrival Oct. 16 would be a gutsy bet. But it's not that much of a longshot.

2. Familiar faces coming to CoMo

Tennessee hired former Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel on Wednesday to be the Volunteers' next coach after a three-year stint as Central Florida's head coach. 

North Texas athletic director Wren Baker was a deputy athletic director at Missouri in 2015.

Texas A&M offensive line coach Josh Henson was a Missouri assistant from 2009-15.

This will be the Aggies' first trip to Columbia since a 28-21 loss to the Tigers in 2013, which sent Missouri to the SEC championship game after a game-winning 57-yard touchdown run by Henry Josey.

It will also be the first time to Faurot Field for new South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer at the helm of the Gamecocks. 

Southeast Missouri played in Columbia only two years ago, a 50-0 Missouri win in 2019.

3. Tough back half, but plenty of time to prepare

The Tigers' final six games, as to be expected with playing SEC games later in the year, present a difficult path. 

A road contest against Georgia will be tough, and defending SEC East champion Florida serves as Missouri's home finale. One saving grace could be the weather for that Nov. 20 contest.

Texas A&M returns a ton of talent from a 9-1 team that was barely left out of the College Football Playoff and won the Orange Bowl. 

Vanderbilt will be resurgent after hiring Clark Lea as head coach, and Missouri lost its last matchup in Nashville. 

Games against South Carolina are usually close, and Beamer's team is a bit of an unknown at this point. 

The regular season ends with a trip to Little Rock to face Arkansas, which will have this matchup circled after a 50-48 loss to the Tigers less than two months ago. 

Here’s the full list of games for the Tigers:

Sept. 4: Central Michigan

Sept. 11: @ Kentucky

Sept. 18: Southeast Missouri

Sept. 25: @ Boston College

Oct. 2: Tennessee

Oct. 9: North Texas

Oct. 16: Texas A&M

Oct. 23: BYE

Oct. 30: @ Vanderbilt

Nov. 6: @ Georgia

Nov. 13: South Carolina

Nov. 20: Florida

Nov. 27: @ Arkansas (in Little Rock)

Contact Eric Blum at Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

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