What a game!
Didn’t you just know this would be a thriller? Could the night get any better for SEC fans, with Missouri winning a shootout and Ohio State losing in back-to-back games?
Missouri improved to 12-2 with their 41-31 win over Oklahoma State in epic fashion, and Gary Pinkel became Missouri’s all-time winningest coach with 102 wins. Let’s get to some of the bigger takeaways:
Big Picture: This was an important win for the SEC, and earned back some respect after Oklahoma beat Alabama last night. Specifically for Missouri, think about what you’ve accomplished. Mizzou notched their 12th win in a season in which the Tigers won the SEC East, all the while being picked #6 in their own division. Incredible season, and it could have a lasting impact with respect to recruiting momentum. Mizzou’s brand may start expanding more into the southeast.
Henry Freakin’ Josey: What else is there to say about this freak? He sliced and diced defenses all season, and he did it again tonight, rushing for 92 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Josey finished with 1,074 yards and 13 touchdowns. Now, we wait to see what he decides ahead of the NFL Draft. Will he return?
When it mattered most: Neither QB James Franklin nor DE Michael Sam had great games. In fact, there were times when I thought Gary Pinkel should have inserted Maty Mauk into the lineup for a change up to see if the Tigers’ offense could get rolling in the second and third quarters. But Franklin turned it on in the fourth quarter, leading two touchdown drives and making some crucial throws, especially the 3rd and nine to Dorial Green-Beckham on the final drive. Yes, he did turn it over three times — almost four! — but he made the plays when it mattered most. Michael Sam was quiet all game until he made the epic strip sack that led to Shane Ray’s 73-yard fumble return. What a way for both seniors to go out!
Darkhorse Heisman: Maty Mauk will enter 2014 on some darkhorse Heisman lists. Mauk only played two possessions the entire game, and he finished second in rushing with three carries for 73 yards and a beautiful touchdown pass. Mauk has burst, speed and great instincts, and once he gets more experience and better touch on his short to intermediate passes, Mauk could become one of the best dual-threat QBs in the country. The offense has so much upside next year with Mauk at the helm.
Secondary held up: One of the biggest questions regarding Missouri in this game was their secondary, but they held up just enough to eek out the win. They are so active in the secondary and tackled pretty well, but OSU still threw for 377 yards. EJ Gaines is going to be a player in the NFL. Mizzou will miss Gaines and fellow CB Randy Ponder next season.
Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports