How does SEC East champions sound to you? It is probably more probable than one would think, especially after the way things are starting to shake out in the SEC.
Consider first the way Missouri is playing. Only Texas A&M, and maybe LSU, could argue their offense is playing better than Missouri’s. Mizzou ranks second in the SEC in points scored per game, first in rushing offense, fourth in passing offense, second in total offense, and fifth in passing efficiency. While it is true Missouri has not played the likes of LSU or Alabama, Mizzou has for the most part done what they were supposed to do against those opponents.
This brings us to the schedule.
After Missouri plays Georgia on the road, the three most difficult opponents on their schedule – Florida, South Carolina, and Texas A&M – are all at home. The Tigers two remaining road games include Kentucky – a sure win one would think – and Ole Miss who just lost to Auburn and appear to be fading quickly.* Missouri could use their home crowd to propel them into one of the more memorable seasons in school history.
Not sold? Consider the match-ups.
Florida cannot move the ball to save their lives. While Tyler Murphy is probably a blessing in disguise for them at quarterback because he does not turn the ball over, the offense still struggles to put together scoring drives. Florida ranks 96th in the nation in passing offense and 93rd in scoring. Scoring points is going to be a struggle for them no matter who they play.
Yes, their defense is tremendous, but holding Missouri to under 30 points is not going to be easy. And, again, considering the game is at home, the Tigers will have an extra advantage working in their favor.
First, Jadeveon Clowney has quit on the season in an effort to keep himself healthy for the NFL draft. He is not putting in the effort South Carolina needs for them to be a great team.
Second, Connor Shaw is banged up. He still has to survive two more games against Arkansas and Tennessee – both games on the road – before he comes to Columbia.
Those two reasons alone puts Missouri in the thick of things with South Carolina. Add in that South Carolina’s defense just allowed 28 points to Kentucky, is allowing more passing yards per game than Vanderbilt, and, again, will be playing on the road, and Missouri may have a better chance to knock off South Carolina than they do Florida.
The Aggies are going to score point, there is do doubt about this. But Alabama provided the blueprint for beating the Aggies: Crush them on the ground offensively and wait for the Johnny Manziel turnovers.
Texas A&M is dead last in the SEC in defense due to, in part, their inability to stop the run. Opponents are averaging 6.1 yards per carry against them. Mizzou is averaging an SEC bests 6.1 yards per carry. This is a match-up made in hell for the Aggies defense.
And, again, the game is in Columbia.
The key to any of this mattering is beating Georgia on Saturday, which is going to be a tough task. But it is doable
Tennessee racked up 404 yards of total offense and averaged 4.6 yards per carry on the ground. They did this even though the have one of the worst passing attacks in all of college football, ranking 111th in the nation in passing yards per game.
Georgia has allowed 30 or more points to four of their five opponents this season, with the one under-30 coming against North Texas. Their 32.2 points allowed per game ranks 95th in the county. Yes, they’ve played Clemson, LSU, and South Carolina, but Tennessee had no business scoring 31 against them over the weekend.
Also consider that Georgia’s two best running backs will be out due to injury, and two of their top wide receivers are out with ACL injuries. And that’s just the tip of Georgia’s injury iceberg.
With fewer weapons and a weak defense, Missouri may be able to catch Georgia napping. This isn’t to say Mizzou should be considered favorites, but they have the ability to knock off Georgia.
And if that happens, Missouri may be a surprise winner in the SEC East.
*Ole Miss has Texas A&M and LSU the next two weeks. They could be 1-4 in the SEC by November.