KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From here on out, kiddies, the Z-O-U is partying with house money. Gary Pinkel wouldn’t dare say this, and Missouri’s Tigers won’t dare think this, but Saturday is a no-lose kind of deal.
Scenario A: Mizzou loses the SEC Championship game. Congratulations! Worst-case, the consolation prize is a swanky New Year’s Day bowl, most likely the Capital One or the Cotton, and neither is a crappy trip. (Although if you’re parking near the Citrus Bowl, a little sage advice: Make sure your car is locked and your valuables are in Kissimmee.)
Scenario B: Mizzou wins the SEC Championship game, and Ohio State and Florida State also win Saturday. Congratulations! So you’re heading to the Sugar Bowl. And if you can’t figure out a way to have a good time in New Orleans for a few days, well, we can’t help you.
Scenario C: Mizzou wins the SEC Championship game, and either Ohio State or Florida State is upset Saturday. CongratulationsI You’re playing for the National Championship, boys and girls. Cocktails and tailgating as sunset falls over the Arroyo Seco. Simple as that.
Scenario D: Mizzou wins the SEC Championship game, and Ohio State and Florida State BOTH somehow lose. CongratulationsI You’re PROBABLY in the National Championship game, although with a handful of teams now sitting out there with one loss, anything could happen. And we mean anything: Alabama-Mizzou, Alabama-Florida State, Alabama-Auburn, Alabama-Ohio State, Alabama-Oklahoma State, Alabama-Stanford, Alabama-Baylor, Alabama-Michigan State, plague, locusts, famine, ANYTHING. Most likely, the BCS implodes (and just a few months before it was due to be killed off anyway), and chaos ensues.
Which, you gotta admit, is probably the only way this damn thing deserves to go out.
At any rate, we’ve done the math. (Well, OK, we had help with the math, but we paid good money for the tutoring.) And the math says if The Fighting Pinkels win, they are, indeed, knocking on the door for The Big One.
That’s one of the fringe benefits of joining the SEC, of course: In theory, your one loss has more cache than the one loss suffered by the biggest stick in the Big Ten or the ACC.
Ah, but there’s the trick: One of those aforementioned teams — the Buckeyes and Seminoles, in this case — has to pick up that one loss first.
In other words, Go Green, Go White, or go home.
On paper, Sparty has the best chance to shock the world, and given their defense — No. 1 in the FBS — you’d be a fool (or a Buckeye) not to give them a puncher’s chance.
Although Michigan State’s Connor Cook is a sophomore quarterback on the biggest stage of his young life.
And Mark Dantonio is 1-3 against Ohio State, lifetime, as coach of the Spartans. And Bucks coach Urban Meyer is 2-1, lifetime, in conference championship tilts.
On second thought, Go Dookies.
“I think that there’s a fine line between politicking and knowing that you deserve (to be) there,” was how former Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel put it. “I think that if we win on Saturday, I think everything else will take care of itself.”
You’d hope. This is college football, though, where logic gives way to provincial biases, decades of grudges, close-mindedness, narrow-mindedness, simple-mindedness, good ol’ boys, and backroom handshakes.
Oh, and non-stop stumping.
“I’m not very good at beating the drum,” Pinkel told reporters earlier this week.
Mind you, Saturday might be a fine time to start.
This is the SEC, Gary, where saying you’re the best carries almost as much weight as going out and proving it.
My gosh, look at Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, who told reporters it would be “un-American” to leave the SEC champion out of the national title game, regardless of what happens in the Big Ten or the ACC.
“This is not just about beating Alabama,” Jacobs continued. “It’s about where this team has come from.”
See? Now, that’s how you do it. If all else fails, question the patriotism of every voter out there.
And if that fails, question their respective manhoods.
And when that fails, pour Diet Sunkist onto the computers. That’ll show ’em.
Jacobs’ contemporary, Mizzou AD Mike Alden, was a bit less melodramatic when appearing on the “Tiger Talk” radio show earlier this week — in his defense, it’d be hard to be melodramatic — saying only that “we believe the SEC, and I think we can all speak to that, is the toughest conference in America.
“You have to be able to take a look at the entire body of work. The BCS is what it is. For the last year, they’re going to decide who the No. 1 and the No. 2 is. Whoever that ends up being, it’s great that Mizzou is in the conversation. We’ve got all the chips out there.”
Now it’s time to cash them in.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.