SEC Fans, Media Owe Missouri an Apology

Randy ChambersAnalyst IOctober 12, 2013

Oct 12, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Missouri Tigers players react after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. Missouri defeated Georgia 41-26. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody can officially welcome Missouri to the SEC. While you're at it, don't be afraid to apologize to the players and the coaching staff. It's cool. They should understand. You weren't paying any attention to the Tigers, and now you're looking for somewhere to hide.

Missouri got arguably the biggest win in program history by going into Georgia and leaving with a 41-26 win, making its presence felt with a 6-0 start.

That's right. Missouri, the same program mocked for leaving the Big 12 and finishing with a 5-7 record last season, was the first SEC team to become bowl-eligible.

Many SEC fans wondered why Missouri even wanted to test the waters of this power conference. After all, it's not like it had overwhelming success in the Big 12, producing just three seasons of double-digit victories since 1961.

All of a sudden this team was going to compete with Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the rest of the gang? Dream on. Fans paid little attention, and the media didn't give a second look when picking the Tigers to finish sixth in the SEC East this season. Even Tennessee got more love during SEC Media Days.

Oct 12, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive back Duron Singleton (2)  reacts after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. Missouri defeated Georgia 41-26. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, former Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson referred to Georgia and the rest of the SEC as "old-man football."

“I watched the game. I turned it off, too,” Richardson said, adding “It’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football.”

His team couldn't do too much talking after the game, with the Bulldogs winning 41-20, but maybe he was on to something.

The conference that was known for punishing defense and aggressive running has now turned the page a bit. Defenses aren't playing with the same energy, and offenses are speeding up the tempo. This style of play isn't your grandfather's football, and the SEC may have Texas A&M and Missouri to thank.

Those two additions have changed the way SEC plays football, and some teams are struggling to adapt. Missouri was able to beat Georgia at its own game offensively, compiling 23 first downs and 375 total yards. But the defense also stepped up by forcing four turnovers and putting relentless pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray. Missouri gave the Bulldogs the best of both worlds, and it resulted in a monster of an upset.

The team treated like the ugly stepchild now has back-to-back road wins over SEC competition. Yes, Georgia had plenty of key injuries on both sides of the ball, including missing star running back Todd Gurley. But even then, Georgia supposedly has more talent in its backups than Missouri has starting on the field.

Whoever you want to blame for the loss, credit must be given to Missouri for stepping up and making a statement. The coaching staff called a clean game, and the players executed. The Tigers walked into Athens and punched Georgia right in the mouth. It wasn't the same team most were used to seeing last year.

You have no choice to pay attention now. Missouri is the only undefeated SEC team besides Alabama and controls its own destiny in the SEC East. While there are still games against Florida, South Carolina and Texas A&M on the schedule, all of those matchups will take place at home.

Regardless, if the Tigers can continue this momentum, it's clear they are ready to compete with some of college football's best. Missouri is now allowed to eat at the adult table, and there's nothing the media or fans can say about it.

Just make sure crow is being served as the main course.