COLUMBIA, Mo. (CBSMiami) – While the sports nation focused its attention on Auburn’s miraculous play at Jordan Hare Stadium and the dramatic ending between Michigan and Ohio State; in the middle of the nation, the Missouri Tigers continued to do what they have done all season, win.
Now, the Tigers are one win away from being crowned SEC Champions and having an outside shot at playing for the BCS National Championship Game. For Mizzou to get to Pasadena, it will need some things to break its way, but nothing can be ruled out in college football.
The Tigers struggled last year, the school’s first in the SEC when it finished with a 5-7 record and no bowl berth. Missouri, like Florida this year, was devastated by injuries. The offensive line for the Tigers lost more than half of their starters last year and starting quarterback James Franklin for much of the year.
Fast forward to this year and a healthy Franklin plus a healthy offensive line have helped lead the Tigers to the brink of something spectacular. If Missouri can beat third-ranked Auburn on Saturday, Mizzou will have a change at playing for the BCS title.
Missouri has gotten to this point with a balanced attack on offense and a suffocating defensive line.
The Tigers average 38.8 points per game, second-best in the SEC. Mizzou also has the second-best rushing attack in the conference, averaging 236.9 yards on the ground and the fifth-best passing attack in the SEC with an average of 252.6 passing yards per game.
In total, Mizzou averages 489.5 yards per game, or 6.68 yards per play, fourth best in the SEC, according to cfbstats.com.
Defensively, the Tigers are giving opponents fits this season. Missouri surrenders an average of 19.4 points per game, second-best in the SEC. The Tigers also give up just 119.1 yards per game, second-best in the conference and have given up the second-fewest rushing touchdowns in the conference (11).
Where Missouri has dominated is in the turnover war. The Tigers are +15 in turnovers this year and have recorded a turnover in more than 40 straight games.
Mizzou also leads the conference in sacks with 37 (3.1 sacks per game), tackles for loss with 95, and interceptions with 18 (1.5 per game).
Getting to the SEC Championship game in only the second season in the conference is step one for Missouri. Step two is to knock off Auburn this Saturday to win the SEC Championship. What comes after that is anyone’s guess.
Missouri would make the same claim Auburn will make for the BCS title game if it wins the SEC title: toughest conference, tougher strength of schedule, knocking off a Top 3 team to win the conference title.
But, Missouri will need some help to get to Pasadena and a shot at the BCS title.
Ohio State is playing for the Big Ten Championship on Saturday against Michigan State. If the Spartans knock off Ohio State, the winner of the SEC title will play for the BCS Championship, most likely against Florida State, assuming the Noles can beat Duke.
On the other hand, if Ohio State narrowly beats Michigan State and Auburn or Missouri dominate the SEC Championship game; the SEC will put up a big fight to get into the title game. If Ohio State thumps Michigan State, the Buckeyes are almost guaranteed a title shot ahead of the SEC.