Mizzou gets the last laugh on doubters who said Tigers couldn’t ‘handle’ the SEC
Josey ran to moonlight. Ray Charles sang to the stars, lifted by the
public-address system at Memorial Stadium, as tens of thousands in black
and gold danced and dreamed and pinched themselves silly on the turf
crazy,” Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers said, beaming, after his
Tigers beat Texas A&M, 28-21, to clinch the program’s first-ever SEC
division title and a berth in the league’s championship game in just
its second season as a member institution. “No one expected it. I knew
what we were capable of. I knew that we were going to get it done.”
— the Boston Red Sox of the old Big Eight, Fifth Down U, where Scott
Frost’s heave somehow found Shevin Wiggins’ foot, where gridiron glories
have been crushed like so many aluminum cans — is the king of the SEC
second. Dropped onto the block where Georgia (48 bowl games all-time)
and Florida (41) and Tennessee (50) and South Carolina (18) call the
tunes, Team Pinkel — 7-1 in the league, 11-1 overall — was the last
one standing on the floor.
great,” Brothers continued. “We’ve always heard that we don’t belong in
the SEC, that we’re not good enough, we need to stay in the Big 12.
that’s something that always motivated us,” Brothers said. “We hated
hearing that. If (excuses) were the case, we could’ve said the same
thing last year.”
feels like longer — the Tigers were putting the bow on a 2-6 record in
SEC play, their first since jettisoning the Big 12. And oh, how the
critics howled. Little Mizzou, a “basketball” school, had taken a bridge
too far, a path to sure-fire gridiron irrelevance, all for a money
grab. Kansas fans doubled over in laughter.
Tigers are a victory away from an SEC title, which means a berth in the
BCS title game — the big crystal ball — is very, very much in play.
mean, that’s awesome; it’s just awesome,” senior left tackle Justin
Britt said. “But what we want is the SEC Championship hardware. That’s
our goal. That’s what we’ll strive to get.”
was a night won the way the division was won — defensively. The Aggies,
led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at quarterback,
notched 11 first downs at the half. They managed just four in the fourth
quarter. First-half yards: 226. Second-half yards: 152. A&M’s final
three possessions netted a grand total of a yard.
you can hold Texas A&M to 21 points, you’re playing pretty good
defense,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “And that’s an understatement.”
was a night won on the guile of senior quarterback James Franklin (233
passing yards, 80 rushing yards) and the grit of junior tailback Henry
Josey (96 rushing yards), whose healthy return this fall after a long,
painful comeback from knee problems seemed to galvanize an already
airtight locker room.
that it was Josey who broke the tie, taking a third-and-1 carry from his
own 43 with 3:34 left in the game, cutting back to his left, and racing
into the clear.
was blocking my guy and I heard cheering and I saw him running,” was
how Britt recounted Josey’s 57-yard touchdown run, his third of 50 yards
or more this season. “And I don’t know if you guys know this, but he’s
long and winding and crazy road leads to the Georgia Dome, in a matchup
that few in August thought remotely possible, much less sensible.