In last year’s SEC Championship game loss to the Auburn Tigers, the game turned into a track meet. Both teams moved up and down the field with ease as the points racked up. Mizzou was in the game, a three point difference, with 13 minutes to play, before Auburn took control and just like that, the game was over.
It seemed like a blur watching from high above the Georgia Dome. On the field for some of the Missouri players, the sentiment was the same. Center Evan Boehm talked about the atmosphere and feel of such a big game. He admitted he may have been in awe. Other players, such as Michael Scherer said the Tigers were worried about gaining respect. All of that is out the window. Now the team comes to Atlanta for the second year in a row with a renewed focus.
If you are a glass half-empty type of fan, you’ll say Gary Pinkel’s Tigers can’t win the big game. If you’re a glass half-full fan, you’ll believe that getting to the championships game is a major accomplishment and winning is difficult. In three of the four championship games, (’08 vs. Oklahoma, ’13 vs. Auburn and ’14 vs. Alabama) the Tigers are facing an opponent that has either gone on to play in the national championship game or will be number one heading into post season. In every single season, Missouri has faced a team that comes in with either a better record or better accolades. The lone exception is ’07 when the Tigers were ranked number one. In other words, the Tigers aren’t playing cheap competition.
Perhaps that’s where the lack of national respect may come from…the stigma of not winning the “big game.” That could all change after Saturday.
Welcome to Atlanta, as we continue our coverage of the Tigers, SEC Championship march.