It’s a great upcoming week for Mizzou football, as the Tigers will play an SEC West opponent. Why have they struggled in the past?
Mizzou football history in the SEC is still relatively new after joining the conference in 2012. Despite being one of the western-most teams in the SEC, they reside in the SEC East. This was controversial when they joined, as some believed Auburn should’ve been moved to the East. However, that would ruin either the Iron Bowl or the Third Saturday in October, Alabama’s two biggest rivalry games. However, it has worked out for the Tigers in the East. Since they don’t have to play LSU and Alabama every year, they have actually been able to win divisional titles, something Texas A&M hasn’t done since joining the SEC.
But the Tigers must play two games outside of the division every year. Since 2014, one game has been set in stone against Arkansas. Although these teams aren’t necessarily bitter rivals, this is the “rivalry” game of the year outside of the division. Missouri has done well in this game, but the Tigers have struggled in their other opponent across the division.
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From 2014-2018, the Tigers are 1-4 in those games, including a four-game losing streak. So, why is this the case? Missouri is a quality team, so why can’t it win these swing games?
To be honest, part of it is just bad luck. They have lost to Auburn, LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi State in that span. The loss to Alabama was last year on the road, so they went into that game with little chance of victory. The loss to Auburn was in 2017, the year the Tigers beat Alabama to win the SEC West.
The LSU Tigers were beatable in 2016, but Missouri was having a down year as well. If your team isn’t good, don’t expect to beat LSU on the road under any circumstances. The only truly winnable game was against Mississippi State, but that was Dak Prescott’s final year of college.
So, it appears that Missouri has been handed the short straw in just about every way with these swing games. Will their luck change in the future? Maybe so. After playing the Rebels this year, the Tigers will travel to play Mississippi State on the road next season. That’s not a guaranteed win, but it’s your best bet in the SEC West.
It’s not ideal for Mizzou football, but it could be worse. At the end of the day, Mizzou at least gets to play Arkansas every year. As the program rebuilds and grows, perhaps some wins will go along the way.