What If ... Mizzou Were Already In The SEC (1994-95)?

19 Nov 1994: Coach Larry Smith and company of the Missouri Tigers stand on the sideline and call the plays. Mandatory Credit: Todd Rosenberg/Allsport

Intro
1992-93

So Bob Stull gets fired and gives way to Larry Smith in 1994. The transition from pass-pass-pass to run-run-run goes about as horribly as one would expect, be it in the Big 8 or SEC. In fact, it goes quite a bit worse in an impressively deep 1994 SEC.

1994

Date Opponent W/L Score Record
9/3
Tulsa
L
17-20
0-1
9/10
at Illinois
L
0-42
0-2
9/17
at South Carolina
L
10-26
0-3 (0-1)
10/1
Florida
L
7-52
0-4 (0-2)
10/8
at Georgia
L
6-28
0-5 (0-3)
10/15
Ole Miss
L
21-30
0-6 (0-4)
10/22
at Tennessee
L
14-51
0-7 (0-5)
10/29
Kentucky
L
24-34
0-8 (0-6)
11/5
Vanderbilt
W
23-21
1-8 (1-6)
11/12
at Arkansas
L
21-38
1-9 (1-7)
11/19
Kansas
L
14-31
1-10
11/26
at Hawaii
T
32-32
1-10-1

Record: 1-10-1
Points: 189-405 (-216)

Record in Big 8: 3-8-1
Points: 208-325 (-117)

What Doesn't Happen: Mizzou doesn't get the pleasure of beating 1-10 Houston, 0-10-1 Oklahoma State or 3-7-1 Iowa State. Meanwhile, two great opponents -- Colorado (11-1) and Nebraska (13-0) -- are replaced with Florida and a bunch of good-enough-to-beat-Mizzou teams.

What Does Happen: With a double-digit home loss to Kentucky, Mizzou only really has a chance to beat Tulsa (they don't), Vanderbilt (hooray!) and Hawaii (tie). Yeah, not a good start to the Larry Smith era.

SEC West
Alabama (8-0, 11-0)
Auburn (6-1-1, 9-1-1)
Texas A&M (6-2, 9-2)
Mississippi State (4-4, 7-4)
Arkansas (3-5, 5-6)
LSU (3-5, 5-6)
Ole Miss (3-5, 5-6)

The last few Iron Bowls have had a major impact on the national title race, but they had nothing on the 1994 battle, which pitted 10-0 Alabama versus 9-0-1 Auburn, both in real life and Alternate 1994. Alabama wins, but they cannot get past Florida in the SEC championship.

SEC East
Florida (7-1, 9-1-1)
Tennessee (5-3, 7-4)
Georgia (3-4-1, 6-4-1)
South Carolina (3-5, 5-6)
Vanderbilt (2-6, 5-6)
Kentucky (1-7, 2-9)
Missouri (1-7, 1-10-1)

Spurrier's Gators are still very much the class of the East, with Georgia in transition and Tennessee gearing up for a nice run with a freshman quarterback named Manning. Even with only one elite team, however, just about everybody is quite a bit better than Mizzou.

SEC Championship Game
Florida 24, Alabama 23

Bowls
Carquest: Mississippi State 24, West Virginia 21
Peach: Texas A&M 34, N.C. State 24
Gator: Tennessee 45, Virginia Tech 23
Citrus: Alabama 24, Ohio State 17
Sugar: Florida State 23, Florida 17

Basically, there is a race between Mizzou, Arkansas and South Carolina to become the second newbie (after A&M) to reach bowl eligibility. None have done the deed yet, though the Hogs and 'Cocks have come a lot closer.

1995

Date Opponent W/L Score Record
9/2
North Texas
W
28-7
1-0
9/9
Georgia
L
7-20
1-1 (0-1)
9/16
at Ole Miss
L
24-28
1-2 (0-2)
9/23
UL-Monroe
W
31-22
2-2
10/7
at Florida
L
17-56
2-3 (0-3)
10/14
Kentucky
L
13-17
2-4 (0-4)
10/21
Tennessee
L
3-25
2-5 (0-5)
10/28
at South Carolina
L
11-24
2-6 (0-6)
11/11
at Vanderbilt
L
30-31
2-7 (0-7)
11/18
Arkansas
L
16-21
2-8 (0-8)
11/25
at Kansas
L
23-42
2-9

Record: 2-9
Points: 203-293 (-90)

Record in Big 8: 3-8
Points: 186-311 (-125)

What Doesn't Happen: Once again, Mizzou avoids quite a few elite teams -- the Big 8 was phenomenal in '95, with Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska all winning double-digit games -- but the midsection and lower half of the SEC are trickier. No Iowa State means no conference wins.

What Does Happen: Mizzou falls to 3-28-1 in four years of SEC play. Hoo boy. A desperate Larry Smith still tears Corby Jones' redshirt off, and while it doesn't happen at Nebraska (that was still a terrible idea), it still doesn't result in any success. Mizzou averages 23 points per game over its final three contests, which allows for a little bit of hope, but ... yuck.

What we're learning so far: a good Mizzou team might be able to do just as well in the SEC, but a bad one is probably going to do worse.

SEC West
Texas A&M (8-0, 10-1)
Arkansas (6-2, 8-3)
Auburn (6-2, 9-2)
LSU (4-4, 7-4)
Alabama (3-5, 6-5)
Ole Miss (3-5, 6-5)
Mississippi State (1-7, 3-8)

It's easy to forget just how good R.C. Slocum's mid-1990s A&M teams were. With Alabama taking a step backwards in 1995, A&M seizes control of a West division that Arkansas actually managed to win in the real 1995. Arkansas doesn't win the West, but they do manage to beat Carolina and Mizzou to bowl eligibility.

SEC East
Florida (8-0, 11-0)
Tennessee (7-1, 10-1)
Georgia (4-4, 7-4)
Kentucky (2-6, 4-7)
South Carolina (2-6, 4-7)
Vanderbilt (2-6, 3-8)
Missouri (0-8, 2-9)

Tennessee surges in Peyton Manning's sophomore season, but they cannot get past Florida. That will become a theme.

SEC Championship Game
Florida > Texas A&M, +16

A&M puts up a better fight than Arkansas did in the real 1995, but Florida is still the class of the league. They will go on to get demolished by Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, of course, but they are still awesome. And they're about to get even better.

Bowls
Independence
: LSU 45, Mich St 26
Peach: Virginia 34, Auburn 30
Hall of Fame: Penn State 43, Arkansas 21
Carquest: Texas A&M 21, North Carolina 17
Citrus: Tennessee 20, Ohio State 14
Fiesta: Nebraska 62, Florida 24

Next up: it gets better. Really! It won't always be this depressing!

1996
8/31: at Tennessee
9/14: Memphis
9/21: Kentucky
9/28: at Alabama
10/5: at SMU
10/12: Vanderbilt
10/26: at South Carolina
11/2: Kentucky
11/9: at Georgia
11/16: Arkansas
11/23: Kansas

1997
9/6: at Kansas
9/13: Eastern Michigan
9/20: Tulsa
9/27: Alabama
10/4: at South Carolina
10/11: at Florida
10/18: Kentucky
10/25: at Vanderbilt
11/1: Georgia
11/8: Tennessee
11/15: at Arkansas

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