Missouri Tigers 24, Mississippi Rebels 10: The Tigers Win the Game They Needed This Week

Stacy Revere

So far, so good in Mizzou's two-week sprint for the SEC East title. All they need to clinch their spot in Atlanta is a win against Johnny Manziel in his last regular-season game

Well, so much for that supposed threat to Missouri's SEC East title hopes.

Mizzou, needing a win against Ole Miss on Saturday and Texas A&M next week to clinch its first trip to the SEC Championship Game, churned out 485 yards of offense and used a nick-of-time defense to do the rest in a 14-point win against the Rebels. Now, assuming they can weather four quarters of Johnny Football, the other other Tigers will become the first SEC expansion team to get to Atlanta during its second season in the league.

There were some issues that the Tigers will need to figure out if they're going to do that. The offense came in fits and starts, with James Franklin going 12-of-19 for 142 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in his first football action in more than a month. And six Ole Miss drives ended up in Missouri territory, even if they did produce 10 points. In fact, the Rebels visited the red zone four times, if you count a 45-yard touchdown run, and scored just twice. It's hard to see Johnny Manziel and the Aggies failing to capitalize on those kinds of opportunities. Or at least, it's hard to see them doing so two weeks in a row.

But Missouri didn't have to beat Texas A&M this week; they had to beat Mississippi. And they did that. The rest is academic, and can be dismissed with a season-defining win against the Aggies in the finale.

Meanwhile, the game served as a subtle reminder that, for as much progress as Hugh Freeze has made in Oxford, the Rebels are not quite where they want to be. A win in the Egg Bowl next week would mark the eighth of the season. That would be another tangible sign of progress after last years' six regular-season victories, another step in the rebuilding process. And another bit of movement toward the day when Ole Miss is the team taking the field with a division title on the line.

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