The Columbia Daily Tribune’s Mizzou Sports Podcast had Phil Steele join the show Thursday as a featured guest.
Steele works for ESPN as a college football analyst and just published his 25th college football preview magazine, serving as publisher over the project.
The 352-page catalog breaks down each of the 130 FBS teams and gives predictions for how the 2019 season will play out.
You can listen to the full podcast here. The following are some highlights from the Tribune’s conversation with Steele, edited slightly for length and clarity:
Tribune’s Eric Blum: What are your overall thoughts about Missouri heading into the 2019 season?
Phil Steele: I think if you’re looking for somewhat of a surprise team in the SEC, I would put a circle around Missouri. They could be much like Kentucky was last year. I like the addition of Kelly Bryant — he’s not going to be Drew Lock, but he did well throwing the football at Clemson. (Bryant) is a dangerous runner and I think he’s going to fill that void well. Larry Roundtree at running back, a big guy, workhorse type of back, and then they have the speed back in Tyler Badie. The receiving corps looks solid led by Johnathon Johnson. Albert (Okwuegbunam) is my top-rated NFL prospect at tight end. The offensive line is solid, a couple NFL prospects in (Tre’Vour) Wallace-Simms and (Yasir) Durant and defensively they have a star on each level of the defense — Jordan Elliott up front on the defensive line, Cale Garrett at linebacker and DeMarkus Acy at cornerback.
EB: In your magazine, you went as far to project Missouri playing in the Music City Bowl against Wake Forest. I know you stated you think the NCAA bowl ban will be overturned by the time the season starts. If it isn’t, what precedent to do think the NCAA sets?
PS: I think it sets a very poor precedent. Let’s face it — Missouri did everything they could to cooperate with the NCAA, be truthful about everything and worst-case scenario you would never have expected a bowl ban, you would have expected some scholarship limitations especially from a university that was so helpful in the process.
EB: Is Alabama vs. Georgia your prediction for the SEC Championship game? If so, who is the team that has the best chance to disrupt that matchup?
PS: My numbers say it's probably going to be Alabama against Georgia. In fact, I’ve got both teams favored in all their games this year. I think both teams are stronger than last year’s version, which met in the SEC title game. If you’re looking for teams to disrupt that, in the SEC West, the team with the best chance is LSU. As far as the SEC East goes, Florida has a decent shot, they’re a top-10 talent. They get (the Georgia game) in Jacksonville. They don’t have to play it (on the road) in Athens like Missouri does. So I think Missouri and Florida are the two teams that would have a chance of getting past Georgia in the SEC East.
EB: You have Missouri ranked as the third-best team in the SEC East. Do you think MU is squarely pegged in that spot with room on either side, with teams like Georgia and Florida ahead of the Tigers and teams like Vanderbilt and Kentucky below them?
PS: No, I think they could actually take the second spot. You go back to last year’s game in The Swamp. I thought Florida was going to beat Missouri that week and Missouri just handed it to Florida. I think Missouri’s going to be a confident team. They get Florida at home, an upset right there at home and it might not even be an upset at the time.