Mizzou reigns as SEC East’s only undefeated team — for now

Might as well come right out and say it.

I was wrong.

I
figured Indiana might beat Mizzou on Saturday, and I was certain the
game would be a lot closer than 45-28 in the Tigers’ favor. Instead,
Gary Pinkel’s team played its best game of this young season against the
best team it’s faced so far. That’s a good sign for the black and gold.

Maybe
Indiana (2-2) will turn out to be a bust. Or perhaps this Tiger team is
much better than I thought. The truth is probably somewhere in the
middle. But … this Mizzou football season does seem a bit more
promising after Saturday, doesn’t it?

Mizzou now sits at 3-0 with
one more non-conference game, Arkansas State, to play. Take care of
business at home Saturday and Mizzou enters a grueling Southeastern
Conference slate — eight games in nine weeks — four games above .500.

Meanwhile, take a look around the SEC East.

Every
team has already taken at least one lump. Florida (2-1) stumbled
against Miami (Fla.) before thumping Tennessee. The Volunteers (2-2)
have now lost to the Gators and Oregon. South Carolina (2-1) lost to
Georgia after the Bulldogs (2-1) fell to Clemson in Week 1. Kentucky
(1-2) has taken L’s from Western Kentucky (ouch) and Louisville. And
Vanderbilt (2-2) has fallen to Ole Miss and South Carolina.

If
this shows anything, it’s that every team in Mizzou’s division is
beatable. And right now, the Tigers are sitting as pretty as possible.

PICK ‘EM

Credit
the Mizzou defense for slowing down an Indiana offense that was
averaging 50 points per game. Part of the reason for the Tigers’
success? A timely interception.

Mizzou defensive end Kony Ealy,
who earned Southeastern Conference Defensive Line Player of the Week
honors Monday, picked off Nate Sudfeld and returned the ball 49 yards
for a touchdown. The play pushed the Tigers ahead by 13 at halftime and
added to an impressive trend.

Mizzou now has nine interceptions.
That total places the Tigers in a six-team tie for second-most in the
nation. Northwestern leads all teams with 10. If the Tigers can continue
to pull in momentum-shifting picks, they will keep high-scoring
offenses below their averages.

MOVING THE CHAINS

Another
stat worth noting is Mizzou’s third-down conversion rate. The Tigers
are leading the SEC, moving the chains to a tune of 59.6 percent. At the
end of last season, that rate was 33.3 percent. Sure, a dip is expected
as the competition becomes more difficult, but this unit seems better
fit for that challenge.

DARNELL GETS ON THE BOARD

If you’re looking for a touching story, check this out.

Nine
days after his final treatment for leukemia, Darnell Green-Beckham —
the younger brother of Mizzou star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham —
scored a touchdown for Hillcrest High School.

The score sent
Hornets players to the bench for an excessive celebration penalty, but
it was worth it. It was the first touchdown Darnell, who has been
fighting off the disease since before Green-Beckham came to Mizzou, has
had in two years.

Darnell has verbally committed to play for
Mizzou. He currently stands 6 feet 5, 170 pounds, but is expected to put
on weight now that his chemotherapy treatments are over.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com.