After a pretty wild season, the Missouri Tigers have found themselves back in the SEC championship game for the second consecutive season.

That game down at The Swamp was a turning point. They had already lost at home to a pretty bad Indiana team and were fresh off a molly-whopping from Georgia, 34-0. They were in desperate need of a good game to change their confidence.

What we saw in that game down in Gainesville was a pissed-off team, especially that defense. While the offense stagnated against a very good Gators defense, Missouri’s special teams and defense dominated, limiting the Gators offense to 283 yards and forcing six turnovers, including two touchdowns.

Beating the Gators down in The Swamp is not an easy task. Even though they haven’t been the greatest team lately, they’re never short on athletes. After winning down there 42-13, the Tigers reeled off five consecutive victories. They weren’t all pretty, and that’s why they haven’t been very well respected, in my opinion, but a win is a win. Just ask Florida State.

What has impressed me about this team and these guys is that they have had to deal with doubters and naysayers the whole season. I was one of those people. I tip my hat off to Missouri and coach Gary Pinkel. With everything on the line, the Tigers won their last two games, in Knoxville against a new-and-improved Tennessee team, and at home game against a red-hot Arkansas Razorbacks team.

Maty Mauk has started to play a lot better lately as well, especially in the fourth quarter, which is scary if I’m an Alabama fan. If the Tigers can keep it close until the fourth quarter, things could get very sticky for the Tide.

Missouri heads into Atlanta as 14.5 underdogs to No. 1-ranked Alabama, and you can guarantee that they are using that as motivation. This game will be a lot closer than people think.