Missouri Tigers Football -- 2012 SEC East Champions?

MISSOURI -- SEC Schedule

Sept. 8: GEORGIA

Sept. 22: at South Carolina


Oct. 13: ALABAMA


Nov. 3: at Florida

Nov. 10: at Tennessee

Nov. 24: at Texas A&M

The first words overheard by the entire Southeast when the SEC announced Missouri would be in the Eastern Division were uttered by Texas A&M.  "WHAT THE...?!?!" said the Aggies as they read their name in the same column as Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU.

Since that day, Missouri just intermittently giggles day in and day out.  They get to play in the wide open East, while A&M gets to fight Ole Miss, Auburn, and Mississippi State for fourth place in the SEC West.

[caption id="attachment_653" align="alignright" width="247" caption="Your 2012 SEC East Champion"][/caption]

While the Missouri Tigers are giggling, they are also eyeing a realistic opportunity to win the SEC East in their first season as conference members.

An early peak at the 2012 conference schedule allows even the most casual fan to notice that Missouri has a chance to make it to Atlanta.

Let's start with the season-opener. Columbia gets baptized by fire as it hosts defending SEC East champion, Georgia.

Georgia is beatable early in the season. Uncharted road game territory for the 'Dogs and Missouri will be out to prove they belong in the SEC.

South Carolina seems to lose at least one game per season that has the entire college football nation asking, "How did they lose THAT game to THAT team?" See Auburn 2011 and Kentucky 2010.  Will Missouri 2012 be THAT team to win THAT game this year?

Vandy is Vandy is Vandy. Yeah, James Franklin has the 'Dores forgetting the past, but Vanderbilt's trip to Knoxville in 2011 proved that they can still blow a winnable game with the best of them.  Missouri's throwing version of James Franklin probably gets it done for the Tigers.

Then there's the Alabama game.  So Missouri has one sure SEC loss.

Kentucky.  Insert "basketball is better than football" joke here.

Urban Myer left Will Muschamp with a great track team at Florida. Muschamp will still be rebuilding in 2012 and the next coach in Gainesville will more than likely be doing the same two or three years later.

Derek Dooley will probably still be talking about how young his team is and stuff. The Tigers may make Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart's decision to relieve Dooley of his duties a little easier.

Texas A&M is about as hard a team to judge as any.  They will win one big game per season just before and/or after an inexplicable loss.

The Georgia game September 8 and the South Carolina game September 22 will more than likely determine if Mizzou will make their first trip to Atlanta in their inaugural season in the SEC.  Expect Vanderbilt and Kentucky to withdraw from the SEC if the Tigers do indeed find themselves playing as the SEC East representative in the Georgia Dome.  20 years of SEC Championship Games and the big carpet sign in Dalton, GA is as close as Kentucky and Vanderbilt have come to the Georgia Dome.

Missouri's largest obstacle to Atlanta may be the opponents not on Georgia's schedule. Georgia plays neither Alabama, LSU, or Arkansas from the West -- again.  Vandy also avoids the big three in the West. Both teams were to play Alabama in 2012 before realignment shook up scheduling.

A hidden factor in how well a team will do in the upcoming season is how they finished the previous season. If 2011 is any indicator, Mizzou fans will have plenty to cheer about in 2012. The Tigers won the final three regular season games -- including their first win over Texas since 1997 and second since 1931 -- and closed the season out with an Independence Bowl victory over North Carolina.  A fifth consecutive win could bring victory over the expected favorite in the East -- Georgia -- in the first game of the season. That would essentially give the Tigers a two-game lead in the East over the 'Dawgs before they even play two games.

[caption id="attachment_654" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="How many cornerbacks quit football when they saw DGB's high school on the schedule?"][/caption]

Did we mention incoming freshman phenom wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham? He's expected to make such an immediate impact that every recruiting expert is calling him the next A.J. Green and Julio Jones.

If he helps his team as much as Julio did for Alabama in his freshman year of 2008, SEC purists will be throwing their Mountain Dew bottles full of dip spit to the ground and slapping the brakes off their wives' children.

SEC purists believe the SEC is the best conference to ever play the game -- it is -- and for a team from "way up North" in Missouri to come in and win in THE conference is unheard of.  Why, they'd rather reenact the SEC's biggest loss in history, The Battle of Columbus.

Honestly, I'm not a huge Civil War buff, but I do enjoy it if the right people are talking about it. Especially all the 21st Century Quarterbacks around these parts that discuss 1861-1865 like it were televised on CBS just this past Saturday with Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson commentating.

There's the digression.  I'll exit now.

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