Stop doubting the Missouri Tigers.
I know I have.
Missouri disappointed early in 2014 with an inexcusable loss to Indiana. A 34-0 shutout loss to Georgia should have shut the door on the Tigers’ division title hopes — but it didn’t.
Through it all, Missouri has remained near or at the top of the SEC East standings throughout the season — a run that seemed more because of luck rather than talent early on. The Tigers looked like a team that should be dismissed as an afterthought for any serious contention for the SEC East.
However, the last month has proven otherwise.
Missouri just won its school-record 10th straight road game and is now 13-2 in SEC play in the last two seasons. A record, in which, only Alabama can claim similar success with a 13-2 record of their own.
Majority of public opinion deemed the task in front of the Tigers too daunting — winning three straight games to close out their season to win the SEC East, especially win two of those three included road games against Texas A&M and Tennessee.
But unlike earlier in the season, Missouri is playing a complete football game on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Maty Mauk has shaken off his prior SEC struggles. The sophomore gunslinger recorded another two touchdown, zero interception performance for the third time in four games.
“He’s been on, man, with his accuracy. He’s kind of played the last couple weeks like we expect him to play every game,” head coach Gary Pinkel said to the media after last night’s win.
Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy have picked up the slack when Mauk’s not played well. Murphy’s two return touchdowns against Florida and Hansbrough’s 199-yard, two touchdown game in Kyle Field last week both led to big Missouri wins.
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The defense has always been there for Missouri this season. Shane Ray and Markus Golden are as good as it can get on the defensive line in college football. Combine that with an underrated linebacking corps and secondary, and you get the second-best defense in conference play (allowing 302.6 ypg).
Did Missouri catch a few lucky breaks against Tennessee last night?
Yes. But what good team doesn’t?
“I’m very proud of our football team,” Pinkel said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
With last night’s victory over Tennessee, the Tigers are now just one game away from clinching their second consecutive trip to the SEC Championship game.
If Missouri’s able to navigate through its final game against Arkansas next week, this may just go down as one of Pinkel’s best coaching jobs.
If the Tigers finish out the season with another win, they deserve that SEC Championship berth.
You can never count a good team out.
I won’t count Missouri out again. Will you?