Which Team Is the New Favorite to Represent SEC East in Atlanta?

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

Oct 19, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) is congratulated by defensive lineman Lucas Vincent (96) after sacking Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (3) (not pictured) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 36-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Meet the new favorite in the SEC East: the Missouri Tigers

The Tigers, who came in at No. 5 in the BCS rankings on Sunday night, are the nation's biggest surprise this year at 7-0.

With marquee wins over Georgia and Florida, Missouri is 3-0 in the SEC, while everybody else in the SEC East has at least two losses. 

SEC East Standings
South Carolina3-25-2

Missouri can all but seal up the SEC title and a berth into the conference title game with a win on Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks, who are second in the division.

If the Tigers win that one, then they will have a head-to-head advantage over the second- and third-ranked teams in the SEC East. 

And with only one game against a ranked team left after this week, you've got to think the Tigers will take care of business down the stretch and continue to solidify themselves as an elite SEC team. 

What's most impressive about the Tigers this year is that they've survived a year in which the SEC is beating up on itself.

There are only two SEC teams in top 10 of the BCS standings (there's three from the ACC, just to give perspective), and that's because the conference has been ruthless. 

Just last week alone, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee pulled off upsets over Texas A&M, LSU and South Carolina, respectively. 

If you're looking for another example of just how dangerous the SEC is and how impressive it is that the Tigers have avoided a loss so far, look no further than the team that put Missouri on the map, the Georgia Bulldogs. 

Going into their matchup with the Tigers just two weeks ago, the Bulldogs were considered a dark horse for a national title berth.

But now Georgia, with two straight losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt, don't even appear in the BCS rankings and are all but lost in the minds of college football fans. 

The Tigers have quietly put together one of the nation's best offenses despite having to replace starting quarterback James Franklin with Maty Mauk last week after Franklin went down with an injury.

They currently rank 30th in passing (279.0), 15th in rushing (234.4) and eighth in scoring (44.3), per ESPN

However, as the old saying goes, defense wins championships. And Missouri hasn't allowed more than 28 points all season. 

The Tigers have five games left on their schedule: three at home and two on the road. The two ranked teams they playSouth Carolina and Texas A&Mare both at home, so the Tigers have the edge there. 

Missouri's Remaining Schedule
Oct. 26No. 21 South CarolinaColumbia, Mo.
Nov. 2TennesseeColumbia, Mo.
Nov. 9KentuckyLexington, Ky.
Nov. 23Ole MissOxford, Miss.
Nov. 30No. 16 Texas A&MColumbia, Mo.

As long as Missouri doesn't collapse down the stretch, the surprise of the nation should coast into the SEC title game with a potential shot at a national title berth. 



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