Mizzou football: Pathway to 10-2 and second place in SEC East

Kelly Bryant, Mizzou Football. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Kelly Bryant, Mizzou Football. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

It might seem like a long shot, but here is the pathway for Mizzou football to get to 10-2 and finish in second place in the SEC East this season.

After dropping their first game of the season on the road against the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie, the Missouri Tigers have won their last four games to get to 4-1 (1-0) on the year. While it’s still incredibly early in the year for Mizzou football, there is a pathway that the Tigers can get to 10-2 (7-1) and finish in second place in the SEC East. Here’s how that’ll have to happen.

After trouncing the Troy Trojans last week at Faurot Field, it will be SEC games the rest of the way for Mizzou. The Tigers did win their first SEC game of the season back on Sept. 21 in the Battle of Columbia versus the division rival South Carolina Gamecocks 34-14 in CoMo. The Gamecocks trotted out a new starting quarterback in Ryan Hilinski, so it was an easy home win for Mizzou.

This Saturday, the Tigers will host the lackluster Ole Miss Rebels with a great shot at improving to 5-1 (2-0) on the campaign. Mizzou is fortunate this year that they draw arguably the two worst teams from the SEC West this season, as the cross-divisional rival Arkansas Razorbacks can’t seem to get out of their way under head coach Chad Morris.

This will be key for the Tigers getting to 10-2 (7-1). Mizzou doesn’t have to face SEC West juggernauts like the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Auburn Tigers or the LSU Tigers this regular season. While the Battle Line Rivalry is always feisty, it might be a lost season for the Hogs by the time Mizzou comes to town Thanksgiving Weekend.

So that leaves us with five contests between the Ole Miss game and the Battle Line Rivalry. What will the Tigers have to do in those five ball games to get to 10-2 (7-1)? Is that even a realistic possibility at this point?

You better believe it is! Mizzou might have had a scary moment when quarterback Kelly Bryant went down in last week’s game versus Troy on a cheapshot, late hit. Fortunately, he looks to be in good shape to play the rest of the way for Mizzou. As long as he’s in there for Derek Dooley’s offense, Mizzou will have a chance to win all but one of their remaining games.

From Oct. 19 to Nov. 23, here is the Mizzou football schedule: The Tigers will face the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville on Oct. 19, the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington on Oct. 26, the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens on Nov. 9, home versus the Florida Gators on Nov. 16 and home versus the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 23.

Mizzou is a superior team to both Tennessee schools, so that’s two more SEC wins right there. A loss to either Vanderbilt or Tennessee would be completely embarrassing. The road game in Lexington versus Kentucky could be challenging. It sure feels like a night game, but keep in mind that the Wildcats are without quarterback Terry Wilson for the season. Mizzou can win this one.

While it would take nothing short of a miracle to beat the Dawgs Between the Hedges on Nov. 9, there is a realistic shot that a 7-2 (4-1) Missouri team can beat the Gators at home on Nov. 16. Florida might be the No. 7 team in the country at 6-0 (3-0) fresh off a great win over Auburn last week. However, that could be a completely different team by the time the Gators play Mizzou.

Florida will have played both LSU in Baton Rouge and Georgia down in Jacksonville by the time this game between the Gators and Tigers will take place. The Gators aren’t expected to win in Death Valley versus the Bayou Bengals. With the way Georgia is playing for head coach Kirby Smart, when is the next time an SEC East team will beat the Dawgs?

The Gators should have wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt, regardless of what happens in Baton Rouge or down in Jacksonville. Florida is possibly looking at an 8-2 (5-2) record by the time they play presumably a 7-2 (4-1) Missouri team in CoMo. Not saying that Florida will overlook Mizzou in this game, but the Gators might very well be already out of Playoff contention at that point.

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So if Georgia runs the table in the SEC, or even if the Dawgs fall on the road to Auburn and finish the year at 11-1 (7-1), Missouri stands a great chance at being the second-place team in the SEC East this year. Florida’s schedule is too brutal. Mizzou football can quietly wait in the weeds to pounce on the Gators in late November to take second place for themselves. It’s very much in play right now.