Both new members of the SEC met defeat in their in-conference debuts, and both made those debuts at home. The Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies both came into their SEC debuts with a lot of fanfare and some hype, but both came up short. Nevertheless, the debuts weren’t complete failures and actually may have provided a quick lesson to the conference’s newest members.
One of the most devastating parts of these losses were that both former Big-12 schools held leads well into the second half only to end up losing. In both cases, what helped build the leads was what helped erase them.
For the Tigers, it was the quick scoring offense that they were going to bring into this conference of “old man football” that was forcing the Georgia Bulldogs to be playing catchup through the first three quarters of play. The problem for the Tigers was that the Bulldogs may have been playing catchup, but they had the stamina to do it. The Bulldogs’ more balanced offense took control of the game and ended with scores on four possessions in the final sixteen minutes of play, totaling 24 unanswered points in what became a runaway 41-20 win. The flash and fury on offense that the Tigers were supposed to bring got brought out of the Bulldogs at just the right moment and resulted in the SEC’s second win against its new members.
Earlier in the day, the Aggies received their SEC initiation right at home in College Station.
The Aggies seemed to have all the grit and determination to hang in the SEC, taking a 17-7 lead into halftime of their game against the Florida Gators. This was thanks to a tremendous defensive effort in the opening half that continued well into the second half for the Aggies. Unfortunately for them, the Gators matched that defensive effort with one of their own in the second half, shutting the Aggies out in the final thirty minutes while crawling back to a slim 20-17 win.
The Aggies’ defense held out as long as they could, but the Gators finally pushed through early in the fourth quarter. The Aggies’ offense had thirteen minutes and change to give their defense some assistance, but could not.
Lesson learned by both: the final quarter is the key. A lot of times it’s not about how you play during the game, but how you finish the game. Both the Tigers and Aggies performed well in the first three quarters of their respective games, and then the engine ran out for the both teams. The Tigers’ defense couldn’t keep the visiting Bulldogs out of the end-zone while the Aggies’ offense sputtered the whole second half. An added emphasis on play in the final fifteen minutes should be been the moral of the story for both new SEC entrants to take away from their first SEC conference games.
The fourth quarter is that time where a winning performance became a bitter and disappointing loss. It’s also that place where a team’s true weaknesses will always come out. And it’s a lesson to be learned for life in the SEC.