The Missouri Tigers (7-0) own a two-game lead in the SEC East, and with a win over South Carolina this week, they would be nearly a sure bet to play in the SEC Championship game. The Tigers are No. 5 in the BCS. These are the same Missouri Tigers that went 2-6 in conference last season and received doubts about their SEC membership.
Steve Spurrier has no doubts as to what Missouri has planned for this year.
Even at 7-0 Mizzou's bandwagon still has room and doubters still have concerns.
"I'm still skeptical about Missouri," ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer said via Matthew Fairburn, Missourian. "A lot of their big wins have come against injury-depleted teams. They've gotten really lucky."
Missouri could also be considered one of these injury-depleted teams. They handled Florida last week without their starting quarterback James Franklin and defensive captain E.J. Gaines. These are injuries that could be a death sentence for any team facing an SEC opponent.
But Backup QB Maty Mauk filled in nicely. Check out his first two throws:
“Backup quarterback?” sophomore center Evan Boehm said via Todd Palmer of the Kansas City Star. “Maty would be starting anywhere else. You guys saw Maty. He doesn’t perform like he’s a backup. Maty was calm, cool and collected during that game.”
It was a complete effort by the Tigers. Mauk threw for 295 yards and a touchdown. Henry Josey ran for 136 yards and a score. Missouri's 500 yards of offense were the most against Florida since October of 2007. and the Tigers ended Florida's 13-game streak of allowing 20 points or under in SEC play via Edward Aschoff, ESPN.
The defense also provided an SEC-like performance allowing just 2.5 yards per play and recording six sacks. It will take a similar effort for Missouri to keep a perfect record. And there's no reason to think Missouri can't keep up the great play.
Missouri's defense ranks fifth in sacks and has the most interceptions. This week they face pocket-passer Dylan Thompson, who gets the start over a banged-up Connor Shaw. Missouri will also have to focus on slowing down Mike Davis and the Gamecocks' ground game.
That shouldn't be much of a problem for the SEC's third-best rush defense in terms of yards per game.
With one of SEC's most formidable defenses and a steady offense, Missouri is surprisingly the most complete SEC team that Nick Saban doesn't coach. LSU is in the mix of course, but would they be able to win games with their backup QB like Missouri did?
Missouri's complete attack and ability to cope with injuries should propel them to the SEC Championship game.
Maty Mauk, Missouri look bound for ATL. http://t.co/XmOXVQRsbJ— Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt) October 20, 2013
Maybe it wasn't clear until now, but Missouri is a deserving member of the SEC fraternity. The best trait that they possess this season is confidence. Pinkel had confidence in Mauk's ability to air it out against Florida. Senior L'Damian Washington had confidence when he predicted an 11-win season during SEC Media Day this summer. He was laughed at by media, even a local radio station.
If they keep up the great play, Washington and the Tigers will have the last laugh.