Taking Missouri for granted in the SEC Championship game would be a huge mistake by Alabama as the Tigers have pulled three consecutive upsets over Texas A&M (34-27), Tennessee (29-21) and Arkansas (21-14), two of which were in hostile environments. The Tigers are now 5-1 SU and ATS as underdogs this season and 8-1 SU and ATS as underdogs dating back to last year.
Missouri also appears to be hitting its stride as evidenced by the fact that the Tigers are +144 yards per game in their last five conference games. Missouri’s success is predicated upon an outstanding defense that is allowing 19.7 points per game on 331 total yards at 4.6 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yards per play against a mediocre defensive squad. Let’s also note that the Tigers are limiting conference opponents to just 4.3 yards per play, while yielding only 4.5 yards per play on the road this season.
Overall, Missouri is 1.2 yards per rush play, 1.2 yards per pass play and 1.1 yards per play better than average defensively, which is good enough to slow down a potent Alabama attack that is 1.1 yards per play better than average (6.7 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yards per play). Missouri’s athletic front seven possess a solid +0.6 yards per rush play advantage over the Crimson Tide’s ground attack. Based purely from the line of scrimmage, Missouri’s stop unit matches up extremely well with the Tide’s offense.
The problem for Missouri has been a pedestrian offense that is averaging 28.6 points per game on 365 total yards at 5.3 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.5 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad. However, the Tigers’ attack has looked better over the last three weeks wherein they are averaging 28.0 points on 473 total yards at 5.9 yards per play. We also like the fact that Missouri is averaging 35.0 points per game on the road in 2014.
Missouri will certainly have a difficult time moving the ball against an elite Alabama defense that is 1.1 yards per play better than average (4.6 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yards per play). Incidentally, that rating is the same one Missouri possesses on the defensive side of the ball so we can expect a relatively low-scoring affair at the Georgia Dome. In fact, our math models project both teams scoring less than 26 points Saturday afternoon.
From a technical standpoint, Missouri applies to a very good 41-6-1 ATS momentum situation that is predicated upon the Tigers’ three consecutive upset wins. The Tigers are also undervalued by the betting market as they are 19-7 ATS over the last two seasons, including 11-3 ATS versus teams with a winning record, 13-4 ATS versus conference foes and 8-1 ATS on the road following one or more consecutive wins.
Conversely, Alabama remains overvalued by the betting market as the Tide are 4-11-1 ATS in their last sixteen games overall, including 0-4 ATS after covering the point spread. We suggest grabbing the points with Missouri at +14 or better in the SEC Championship game.