The Missouri Tigers are just two wins away from winning the Southeastern Conference‘s Eastern Division and from an appearance in the SEC Championship Game. The scenario for the Tigers is simple: win and they are in. Unlike that simple equation, the opposition will not be as easy.
Missouri hits the road this weekend to face the Ole Miss Rebels, who are now ranked 24th in the country by the Associated Press. Ole Miss is 7-3 after thumping Troy on Saturday.
The Tigers will once again have the services of senior quarterback James Franklin, who returned briefly two weeks ago, but is expected to start on Saturday. Franklin injured his shoulder earlier in the season, but appears to be ready to go for the trip to Ole Miss. Franklin’s backup, Maty Mauk, played well in his absence, and is expected to play on Saturday as well.
Missouri’s success this season has been due to outstanding play on both sides of the ball. On offense, Gary Pinkel‘s Tigers are second in the SEC in scoring (41.3 points per game), and third in scoring defense (20.2). Missouri is also outstanding in the run game, averaging 235.8 yards on the ground per game, which is second in the league. The impressive thing about that fact is that Mizzou has only one of the league’s top 15 rushers (Henry Josey is 11th). The ground game by committee has worked for the Tigers, with Josey, Franklin, Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough all contributing to the cause.
This will be arguably the biggest game that Missouri has faced during its short time in the SEC. If the Tigers can go on the road and beat a ranked team from its own division, it will prove that they have arrived. But it won’t be easy.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.