What If ... Mizzou Were Already In The SEC (1996-97)

Intro
1992-93
1994-95

I finished Part Three of this series by saying "it gets better." And it does! Following a pair of miserable campaigns (3-19-1) in Larry Smith's first two seasons, Corby Jones fully takes the reins in 1996, and eventually the tide (briefly) turns. Mizzou doesn't contend for a division title by any means, but you have to crawl before you can walk.

1996

Date Opponent W/L Score Record
8/31
at Tennessee
L
21-42
0-1 (0-1)
9/14
Memphis
L
16-19
0-2
9/21
Kentucky
W
28-16
1-2 (1-1)
9/28
at Alabama
L
9-28
1-3 (1-2)
10/5
at SMU
W
27-26
2-3
10/12
Vanderbilt
W
38-31
3-3 (2-2)
10/26
at South Carolina
L
21-30
3-4 (2-3)
11/2
Florida
L
3-35
3-5 (2-4)
11/9
at Georgia
L
24-31
3-6 (2-5)
11/16
Arkansas
W
21-17
4-6 (3-5)
11/23
Kansas
W
42-25
5-6

Record: 5-6
Points
: 250-300 (-50)

Record in Big 8: 5-6
Points: 278-376 (-98)

What Doesn't Happen: Mizzou no longer loses to Texas in a monsoon, knocks off a ranked Clemson team in September, or faces back-to-back whoopings at the hands of Colorado and Nebraska in November.

What Does Happen: They still go 5-6, with bowl eligibility prevented by a silly, three-point loss to Memphis. They take out both Arkansas and Kansas to end the season, leading to serious optimism for 1997.

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

Following a down year in 1995, Alabama bounces back to once against win the West, narrowly holding off LSU and A&M. Their rebound won't be a lengthy one, however.

SEC East
Florida (8-0, 10-1)
Tennessee (7-1, 9-2)
South Carolina (4-4, 6-5)
Georgia (3-5, 5-6)
Missouri (3-5, 5-6)
Kentucky (2-6, 3-8)
Vanderbilt (0-8, 2-9)

In Peyton Manning's junior season, Tennessee is unbelievable ... and still not as good as Florida.

SEC Championship Game
Florida 45, Alabama 30

Bowls
Sugar: Florida 52, Florida State 20
Citrus: Tennessee 48, Northwestern 28
Outback: Alabama 17, Michigan 14
Independence: Texas A&M 35, Army 17
Peach: LSU 10, Clemson 7
Liberty: Auburn 30, Houston 17

This series has been as much "Damn, Florida was awesome in the mid-1990s" as "How would Mizzou have fared?"

So Mizzou finishes 1996 on fire (relatively speaking), and big things are expected in 1997. And just as in the real 1997, things don't start amazingly well.

1997

Date Opponent W/L Score Record
9/6
Eastern Michigan
W
44-24
1-0
9/13
at Kansas
L
7-15
1-1
9/20
Tulsa
W
45-17
2-1
9/27
Georgia
L
20-30
2-2 (0-1)
10/4
at South Carolina
L
28-31
2-3 (0-2)
10/11
at Florida
L
10-43
2-4 (0-3)
10/18
Kentucky
W
48-42
3-4 (1-3)
10/25
at Vanderbilt
W
29-24
4-4 (2-3)
11/1
Alabama
W
34-27
5-4 (3-3)
11/8
Tennessee
L
24-43
5-5 (3-4)
11/15
at Arkansas
W
40-35
6-5 (4-4)
12/31 vs Southern Miss W 28-27 7-5

Record: 7-5
Points: 357-358 (-1)

Record in Big 8: 7-5
Points: 392-367 (+25)

What Doesn't Happen: Well, this, for starters.

What also doesn't happen: the three-game win streak (Texas, the unbelievable Oklahoma State game, Colorado) that preceded the Flea Kicker.

What Does Happen: Something similar, really. Mizzou begins the season 2-4, then rebounds following a whooping by Florida and a team meeting. They take out Kentucky and Vanderbilt, then knock off (an admittedly weak) Alabama. They lose handily to Tennessee, though depending on how strongly you view fate, you could say that instead of a 43-24 loss, it is much closer and comes down to, say, a kicked ball or something weird. Regardless, Mizzou finishes up by taking out Arkansas to become bowl eligible. Against Southern Miss in Memphis, they fare better, pulling down their first bowl win of their SEC era.

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

Alabama's sudden demise creates a bit of a power void in the West. Auburn holds off both LSU and Mississippi State to take their first division title.

SEC East
Tennessee (7-1, 10-1)
Florida (6-2, 9-2)
Georgia (6-2, 9-2)
Missouri (4-4, 6-5)
South Carolina (4-4, 6-5)
Kentucky (1-7, 4-7)
Vanderbilt (0-8, 3-8)

Meanwhile, Florida's strangehold over the East diminishes. They still beat Tennessee, but losses to Georgia and LSU give Manning and the Vols the division title. Mizzou is not a contender here by any means, but they probably do not mind too much.

SEC Championship Game
Tennessee 30, Auburn 29

Bowls
Orange: Nebraska 42, Tennessee 17
Peach: Auburn 21, Clemson 17
Citrus: Florida 21, Penn State 6
Outback: Georgia 33, Wisconsin 6
Liberty: Missouri 28, Southern Miss 27
Independence: LSU 27, Notre Dame 9
Motor City: Ole Miss 34, Marshall 31

So for two consecutive seasons, Missouri finishes with the same record in the SEC as in the Big 12. This somewhat supports the conclusion I was beginning to reach in the last part of this series: a bad team will do worse in the SEC, but a good (or at least decent) team will hold its own just fine. We'll see if that continues, eh?

Up next for Mizzou: Corby Jones' and Devin West's senior seasons. And then, a black hole.

1998
9/5: Bowling Green
9/12: Kansas
9/19: at Georgia
10/3: Northwestern State
10/10: Kentucky
10/17: at South Carolina
10/24: Florida
10/31: Vanderbilt
11/7: at Tennessee
11/14: Auburn
11/21: at Arkansas

1999
9/4: UAB
9/18: Western Michigan
9/25: Georgia
10/2: at South Carolina
10/9: at Vanderbilt
10/26: Kentucky
10/30: at Auburn
11/6: Tenessee
11/13: at Florida
11/20: Arkansas
11/27: at Kansas

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Rock M Nation

You must be a member of Rock M Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rock M Nation. You should read them.

Join Rock M Nation

You must be a member of Rock M Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rock M Nation. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker