Missouri, Maryland unbeaten, but are they for real?

At 4-0, Maryland is one of four undefeated teams left in the ACC.

At 4-0, Maryland is one of four undefeated teams left in the ACC. (AP)

Missouri is one of two undefeated teams in the SEC.

Maryland is one of four undefeated teams in the ACC.

Are they pretenders or contenders?

We’ll know more about both of them after their first conference games on Saturday. Missouri plays at Vanderbilt,  and Maryland, which grabbed the last spot in the Top 25, plays at No. 8 Florida State.

Let’s take a look at both teams.

Missouri

Last season, the Tigers’ first in the SEC, was a disaster. QB James Franklin was hurt throughout and they won only two SEC games. Franklin has been healthy this year and the Tigers have taken advantage of an easy early schedule that included Murray State, Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. Thanks to that spectacularly pitiful level of competition, Franklin and his offense have looked strong, running up big numbers. Look for tough times to begin this weekend. Vanderbilt already has two SEC losses, so it’s desperate, in addition to being tough at home. And even if the Tigers win Saturday, it might be their last for a while. Next up: at Georgia and home games against South Carolina and Florida.

Prognosis: Pretender

Maryland

Like Missouri, the Terrapins suffered through an injury-laden 2012. It was so bad for Maryland QBs, that coach Randy Edsall converted a linebacker into his starting quarterback. But C.J. Brown, who started last year as the starter before missing the entire season with a knee injury, has returned to lift Maryland out of the doldrums. But like Missouri, the Terrapins haven’t played a strong schedule. West Virginia is the only quality victory for Maryland, which has also defeated Florida International, Old Dominion and Connecticut. Still, with strong QB play, speedy WR Stefon Diggs, what appears to be a stout defense, and a less than daunting schedule — Clemson is the only other ranked team on the schedule — the Terrapins could win 10 games.

Prognosis: Contender

Ole Miss at Auburn

If the Rebels want to be taken seriously, they have to win at Auburn on Saturday, because Texas A&M and LSU are the next items on the menu.

And here’s another if — If Ole Miss defeats Auburn, and if it can defeat either Texas A&M or LSU, the Rebels could finish with 10 wins because they likely would be favored to win their final five against Idaho, Arkansas, Troy, Missouri and Mississippi State.

In a nice bit of scheduling, once the Rebels return from Auburn this weekend, they don’t leave Mississippi the rest of the year. They have six straight home games and finish the season at Starkville.

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[...] behind center. They’ve received strong QB play this year from C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe and could finish the season with 10 wins, if they can defeat Virginia Tech on Nov. 16. Make sure to check out WR Stefon Diggs, a true deep [...]