The time has come Missouri Tiger fans. This is for real now. The 2012 football season starts on Saturday and the University of Missouri football team will be competing in its first year in the Southeastern Athletic Conference. The ride through the years of realignment ups and downs and Big 12 uncertainty is finally behind them. Now Mizzou nation can focus on what truly matters, competing in the SEC.
So, how will Missouri fair in the big bad SEC? I'm not worried at all.
I think Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel said it best at SEC media days when referring to the Big 12, "Some people have been acting like we played bunch of high school teams. We were in a pretty good league."
Missouri ranks 9th overall in BCS-AQ conferences with 48 overall wins from 2007 to now. Alabama ranks first on this list with 55 overall wins. The only other SEC schools with more wins than Missouri are LSU and Florida. Missouri has seven consecutive bowl game appearances and hasn't had a losing record in conference play since 2004. Mizzou is one of only six schools in BCS-AQ conferences to have posted a minimum of eight wins in each of the last six seasons. This includes a 12 win season in 2007, a 10 win season in 2008 and a 10 win season in 2010. The others schools in this small group include: LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. To borrow a phrase from Joe Pesci's character in Goodfellas, I don't know if you've heard, but Mizzou doesn't shine shoes anymore.
Everyone in America is predicting Missouri to have a rough time adjusting to the SEC style of football. Even Missouri's long time rivals from the west the University of Kansas. Really, I'm serious. Not kidding here. Some of the Kansas fans I know are actually predicting the Jayhawks to have more wins than the Tigers in 2012. However, last time I checked Missouri has 19 wins versus only 8 losses and 1 tie against the SEC. More importantly Mizzou is 4-1 against the SEC since 2000. This includes a 38-31 win against South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl and a 38-7 thrashing of Arkansas in the 2008 Cotton Bowl.
Missouri will be competitive in the SEC. However, Missouri's 2012 SEC conference schedule is tough with home games against AP No. 6 ranked Georgia, up-start Vanderbilt, AP No. 2 ranked and 2011 BCS National Champion Alabama and Kentucky. Add to this conference road games at AP No. 9 ranked South Carolina, at the swamp with AP No. 23 ranked Florida, in front of over 100,000 Rocky Top fans at Tennessee and at College Station versus old Big 12 foe Texas A & M. Lastly, throw in non-conference games at home against Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State and Syracuse and on the road at the University of Central Florida. A 9-3 record would be an incredible first season in the SEC. A 8-4 record would also be great. A 7-5 record would be above average. A 6-6 record would be a step backwards for the Missouri program.
The University of Missouri's football program has proven it takes its state's slogan to heart. Missouri is the "Show Me State" and Mizzou football and its athletic program as a whole is excelling on a national level. I don't believe the likes of James Franklin, TJ Moe, Dorial Green-Beckham, Sheldon Richardson and the rest of the 2012 squad will let the vaunted SEC intimidate them. They will continue to prove that Mizzou football should be taken seriously on a national level. The move to the SEC will only highlight this more.
Mizzou standout wide receiver TJ Moe said this of what he has heard about life in the SEC, "The girls are prettier, the air is fresher and the toilet paper is thicker." In the most anticipated season in Missouri football history, the 2012 Tigers will add an exciting, high octane brand of college football to life in the SEC and will surprise many folks throughout the country.
This isn't Missouri's first rodeo. MIZ...ZOU!