Vegas says Mizzou is underdog against Indiana on Saturday

ST. LOUIS — In August, eight college football writers were asked for predictions on how Missouri’s 2013 season would pan out, game by game. The Athlon Sports survey yielded no surprises in the first two weeks. Every person figured the Tigers would breeze by Murray State and Toledo. Then came Indiana.

Three writers felt the Tigers might stumble for the first time against the Hoosiers on Saturday.

I was one of them, and Las Vegas seems to agree.

Since Monday, Mizzou has gone from a three-point favorite to a one-point underdog in three Sin City casinos. At 5Dimes.eu, an offshore site, Mizzou has fallen from a 5.5-point favorite to a 2-point underdog. According to Covers.com, the Orleans is now the only place listing Mizzou as a favorite.

Unless you bet on sports (I don’t), the moving line tells us just one thing: This game has the feeling of a crapshoot, and the money is on Indiana. The Tigers, by and large, are not being trusted to take down the Hoosiers in Bloomington at night.

This seems to baffle some Mizzou fans, likely due to the foreshadowing a loss would bring. Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and his Tigers desperately need to enter Southeastern Conference play undefeated in order to have a chance at rewriting last year’s forgettable 5-7 record.

But if you haven’t heard, the basketball school from the Big Ten has been building a respectable football team. Coach Kevin Wilson survived a 1-11 season in 2011, led his team to 4-8 last year and now sits at 2-1 with the Tigers coming to town.

Wilson’s spread out, pass-happy “fastball” offense averages 50 points per game and 7.55 yards per play, and sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld is only getting better. Whatever momentum was squandered in a 41-35 loss to Navy on Sept. 7 was likely rekindled in a 42-10 beatdown of Bowling Green last week.

“We’re still building,” Wilson said this week. “We’ve still got a lot of development and growth to do. It’s going to take hundreds of days to get us to where … much like Coach Pinkel and the stability he has done there in Columbia, in building Mizzou. It takes some time. But I feel like we are on track.”

That’s what will make Saturday so interesting.

Mizzou is a team fighting to not lose its well-earned reputation as a consistent winner. Indiana, with a win, moves one step closer to grabbing that respect for itself.

Which makes Indiana a team to be feared.

Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com.