Unless you share personal ties with the Missouri Tigers, it’s in every college football fan’s best interest to root for the Ole Miss Rebels when the two teams meet this Saturday (7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN).
Sure, there’s no denying that a Missouri run to the SEC title game would be one of the feel-good stories of the year. However, does anyone really want to watch Alabama dismantle an overmatched Tigers squad in Atlanta?
Once was enough.
All it takes to prevent this humiliation from airing on the television screens of households all across America is an Ole Miss victory.
That’s because a loss would drop Missouri to two losses in SEC play, only allowing the team to tie South Carolina—which wrapped up conference play last weekend—at 6-2 in the SEC East. And due to their 27-24, double-overtime victory over the Tigers on Oct. 26, the Gamecocks would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and advance to the conference title game.
Not only would a South Carolina-Alabama SEC title game be far more closely contested on the field, but the storylines would also stretch off it.
Who wouldn’t want to see Tide quarterback AJ McCarron put his Heisman candidacy on the line against defensive end, and future NFL first-rounder, Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks’ No. 15 pass defense? Or what about South Carolina running back Mike Davis trying to maintain his high level of play against an Alabama run defense that is allowing just a little more than 90 yards per game while conceding only five touchdowns on the ground all season?
Since the 1990s, no two men have dominated the conference quite like these two.
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In that time span, Spurrier and Saban have combined for 10 SEC titles, five national championships and 14 division titles. Each also has numerous coaching awards and accolades to their name as well.
Not to mention, no two head coaches are more respected among the conference than Spurrier and Saban.
In comparison, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel only has one conference championship in 23 years of coaching—the 1995 MAC title. Furthermore, the 61-year-old is 0-4 in conference title games.
This isn’t the first time that Pinkel has led a Missouri team to unimaginable heights.
He previously led the Tigers to a 7-0 record and the No. 6 ranking in 2010 before losing its two next games and missing the Big 12 title game entirely. Pinkel also more famously led Missouri to the No. 1 ranking in the Polls and within one victory of earning a shot in the BCS title game.
However, his Tigers were tossed aside, 38-17, by Oklahoma in the conference title game.
Do we really want to see a repeat in 2013?
If most college football fans had their wish, the answer would be no. But there’s still work to be done.
Ole Miss has to defeat Missouri, and the Tide have to take care of business against Auburn.
Make room, Rebels fans, your bandwagon is about to get a little heavier.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.