The Missouri Tigers went 5-7 during their first year in the Southeastern Conference, in 2012. The Tigers struggled with injuries most of the season, but was that the reason that Mizzou didn’t compete? Or were the Tigers simply outclassed?
That question may not be answered until this season. If Gary Pinkel can keep his team healthy, it will be interesting to see how they fare in the nation’s toughest football conference. After all, within Missouri’s division (the SEC East), there are as many as three teams that could be ranked in the Top 10 nationally in preseason polls (the Florida Gators, the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks).
The long-term question is, can Missouri consistently compete in football in the SEC? The Tigers boast a pretty good football tradition, with an all-time record of 631-530-52, including 29 bowl appearances. But their competition now consists of some of college football’s most storied programs. The Alabama Crimson Tide, the LSU Tigers, and not to mention Florida, Georgia and the Tennessee Volunteers, just to name a few.
If Missouri is going to compete in this league, they must prove it during the 2013 season. They have an experienced quarterback in James Franklin. They have a talented running back in Henry Josey. They have a freak at wide receiver in Dorial Green-Beckham. They return eight starters overall on offense and six on defense. That sets Mizzou up to be competitive against the SEC right now.
However, the schedule is brutal. After four straight games that they should win, Mizzou faces a tough SEC schedule. If Pinkel can get the Tigers to six wins and to a bowl game, it would be quite an accomplishment. If there is no postseason for the second straight year, Mizzou could be looking for a new coach, one that can bring this program up to speed with its SEC counterparts.