clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

SEC Football Preview 2014: Missouri Moves Past the Highs and the Lows

The Tigers missed a bowl after their first season in the SEC and then won a division in their second. What happens now?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri has been a curious case since it joined the SEC; the perennial Big 12 contender came off an average 2011 to post a 5-7 record in 2012 -- only to claim the SEC East with an 11-1 regular-season mark in 2013 and end the year at No. 5 in the nation. In its first two years in the league, Missouri probably set its floor and its ceiling, give or take a game or two on the latter. (You can't do any better than 12-0, after all.)

This year looks to be a little bit more in the middle, what you might call a baseline year for Missouri. Not that the Tigers are destined to be in fourth place in the East most years, but that missing a bowl and winning the East are not likely to be the norms, either. Since Georgia broke the Tennessee-Florida stranglehold on the division in 2002, only three of the 12 teams to win the SEC East have gone on to do so the next year.

And the East is unlikely to be as stacked as it was in 2012 or as injury-ravaged as it was in 2013. (Note to Mizzou fans before they get into the comments: I'm not saying that the only reason that the Tigers won in 2013 was because the other teams were hurt. I'm just saying winning the division is more difficult in a median year than it was last season. The 2013 Missouri team would likely have won the division in a more typical year as well.) The East has been as wildly inconsistent as Missouri over the last two years.

The schedule does the Tigers no favors this year. They go to the other Columbia to face South Carolina and to Gainesville to face a Florida team that will presumably be closer to full-strength. Three of their four SEC home games are against Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Arkansas -- teams that would likely be underdogs against Mizzou even if the Tigers were the visitors.

There is a plausible scenario for Missouri to win the division even if Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are as good as expected: Knock off Georgia at home, take one of the road games against the other two, beat Texas A&M in College Station and hope that each of the other three contenders ends up with at least one loss, with two losses for any team that beats Missouri. But that's a tall order given everything the Tigers have lost this year, and there's nothing to be ashamed of in what is an "average" season even if you consider the heights Missouri reached in its second year in the SEC.

Place: 4th in the SEC East
Record: 8-4, 4-4 SEC
Could be: 6-6 to 10-2
Best chance for an upset: GEORGIA
9.6.14 | at TOLEDO | WIN
9.13.14 | UCF | WIN
9.20.14 | INDIANA | WIN
9.27.14 | at SOUTH CAROLINA | LOSS
10.11.14 | GEORGIA | LOSS
10.18.14 | at FLORIDA | LOSS
10.25.14 | VANDERBILT | WIN
11.1.14 | KENTUCKY | WIN
11.15.14 | at TEXAS A&M | LOSS
11.22.14 | at TENNESSEE | WIN
11.28.14 | ARKANSAS | WIN