Missouri Football: How Does the USA Today Preseason Poll Alter Tigers' BCS Path?

Adam Spencer@AdamSpencer4Correspondent IAugust 6, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 29:  James Franklin #1 of the Missouri Tigers dives for a touchdown during a game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on October 29, 2011 in College Station, Texas. The Missouri Tigers defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 38-31.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

The Missouri Tigers football team has a tough task ahead of it this season.

After switching from the Big 12 conference to the more powerful SEC, the Tigers will find it much harder to become bowl eligible.

In the USA Today preseason poll, Missouri was not ranked in the top 25, but did receive three votes in the poll.

However, seven of Missouri’s opponents were also mentioned in the poll, from Alabama to Tennessee.

Alabama is ranked No. 2, Georgia is No. 6, South Carolina is No. 9, Florida is No. 23 and Texas A&M, UCF and Tennessee all received votes in the poll.

That’s an awfully tough schedule for a team in its first year in a new conference. Missouri will have to hit the ground running if the Tigers want to make it to a bowl game this year.

But, on the flip side, there will be ample opportunities for the Tigers to pull off some upsets and work their way into the Top 25.

The Tigers will get an early test in Week 2 of the college football season when the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs visit Columbia for the first time.

The atmosphere will be intense at Faurot Field, and it will be up to the Tigers to protect their home turf.

From there, the Tigers have one of the nation’s most brutal road schedules, with games against South Carolina, UCF, Tennessee, Florida and Texas A&M all set to be played outside the state of Missouri.

The Tigers must win against Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State, UCF, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Syracuse.

That would give them seven wins and make them safely bowl eligible. Then, if they can beat Texas A&M, a team they have owned the past few years, they’ll be in good shape for a good bowl game.

It’s even possible the team could slip into the BCS bowl picture with an upset or two, perhaps pulling off a surprise against a historically slow-starting Georgia team and upsetting South Carolina on the road.

The sky is the limit for this Missouri team. If the Tigers play excellent football in 2012, they’ll have a decent shot of making it to a BCS bowl game.