06 November 2011
The SEC has made it official: Mizzou will be the 14th member of the conference.
After months of speculation and half-true reports of Mizzou joining, the SEC made it official Sunday morning by announcing the Tigers will join the East division in football.
Cue the groans and jeers of the world about how Mizzou cannot compete against the rest of the SEC in football.
But this is not necessarily true. Mizzou is no pushover when it comes to football, and will be very competitive against their new SEC foes.
The SEC is widely considered the best conference in all of college football, boasting members like LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Auburn, who are ranked no.1, 2, 7, 9, 18, and 22 respectively. But four of those teams play in the West division.
In the East division, Mizzou will be pitted against the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee, all of whom boast the same overall record as the Tigers this season, but significantly worse conference records. And unlike the Tigers, all three of those teams as well as future division rivals Georgia and Florida cannot boast a win over a ranked team this season.
According to current national rankings, Mizzou would be first in the division in rushing yards per game (244.9), first in passing yards per game (255.1) and first in points scored per game (34.9).
Additionally Mizzou does not exactly come from a league of pushovers. This season alone Mizzou has faced the then No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (only lost by ten, ahead a good chunk of the game), the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys (lost by 21, but the game was close until the last few minutes) and defeated the then No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies in College Station.
These games, coupled with last-drive defeats at No. 14 Kansas State, No. 22 Arizona State and Baylor, show that the Tigers are capable of hanging with even the best of the best.
The claim that the spread offense cannot be effective against the smash-mouth SEC style is also false. Look at the spread style offenses that have been effective against the conference. Florida and Auburn both ran the spread and won national championships for the conference by relying on a hyper-athletic dual threat quarterback in Tim Tebow and Cam Newton respectively.
While I acknowledge that James Franklin is not on the level of Tebow or Newton, he is a solid dual threat quarterback with outstanding potential next season. And considering he has his favorite target in T.J. Moe for another season, he will only get better. The last time coach Gary Pinkel’s spread offense faced an SEC opponent it blew out Arkansas 38-7 in the 2008 Cotton Bowl.
Additionally Mizzou boasts one of the top tailbacks in the country in Henry Josey, who, as a sophomore this season, has already rushed for 1,150 yards and 9 touchdowns, giving the Tigers what will be one of the most volatile running attacks in the SEC. Josey rushed for 137 yards against OU, who only gives up 127 per game. As a team, the Tigers rushed for 241 yards against the then No. 1 team in the country.
Mizzou is clearly more than capable of competing in the SEC East division, and given the new recruiting venues open to the Tigers, they can only become more competitive over time. Do not turn on this Mizzou team, they could be contending for the conference title right away.
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