Missouri QB James Franklin
Rivalry weekend in the SEC is loaded with big-time games between intrastate rivals, out-of-conference foes and teams that are routinely in the mix for the national title.
Alabama will travel to Auburn on rivalry weekend with the SEC West title on the line in the biggest Iron Bowl the rivalry has ever seen. But how many people predicted that the second-biggest game of rivalry weekend would involve two teams that were playing in the Big 12 two years ago?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
That's exactly what will happen next Saturday night in Columbia, Mo., as Missouri will host Texas A&M in a game that carries enormous ramifications in who plays in the SEC Championship Game.
The Tigers cleared a major hurdle on Saturday night, dominating Ole Miss 24-10 in Oxford. Quarterback James Franklin made his first start in more than a month after injuring his shoulder, and he picked up right where he left off, completing 12 of his 19 passes for 142 yards and rushing for 42 more.
But it wasn't the Missouri offense doing all of the talking on Saturday night. The defense held the potent Rebels to just 378 total yards and kept quarterback Bo Wallace guessing all night. Needless to say, head coach Gary Pinkel was pleased, according to David Morrison of the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune:
Pinkel: "To say I'm proud of my football team and staff would be an understatement."— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 24, 2013
It was an impressive performance for Pinkel's crew.
With South Carolina sitting in the clubhouse needing one Tiger loss to make it to Atlanta, Missouri has an enormous amount of pressure on its shoulders during the final two weeks of the season.
It didn't show on Saturday night.
Standing in the Tigers' way is a familiar former Big 12 foe with a decidedly new-school twist.
Missouri beat Texas A&M 38-31 in their final meeting as Big 12 members in 2011. But a new home in the SEC and new Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel were too much to overcome for the Tigers in 2012, who lost to the Aggies, 59-29.
Who will represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game?
LSU solved the Johnny Manziel riddle on Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. But with nobody really stepping up to challenge Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Manziel would like nothing more than to play spoiler on a big stage on the final weekend of the regular season.
It'd help his team's bowl hopes and would certainly give voters something to think about before submitting their ballots.
This is the new age of the SEC.
The two newcomers will have a giant say in who plays either Alabama or Auburn for the SEC title. If Missouri can finish off its version of "Amen Corner," it will send South Carolina out of the clubhouse dejected and without a division title. If A&M gets the job done, it could revive Manziel's Heisman hopes and send the Aggies back up the bowl pecking order.
Get your popcorn ready.