With just three games left in the regular season, the SEC East is up for grabs. Missouri is in the drivers seat, with Georgia and South Carolina screaming in the back. Winning the East outright is the best bet for the Tigers, as a loss could result in tiebreaker drama. The second best option would be a Florida win over South Carolina giving the Tigers a game to lose. Third would be a Georgia upset over Auburn which would likely result in a three way tie if Missouri loses a game. Another thing to think about is if both South Carolina and Georgia lose, Missouri could drop two games and still make the trip to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship.
Missouri still has a couple of tough games left. Kentucky isn't one of them, but they aren't exactly a "school of the blind" either, they're a program with tradition that would love to knock off the top 10 Tigers. Maty Mauk will likely start tomorrow for the fourth week in a row, but Franklin might be ready if needed. A bye week, and some much needed rest, after the October gauntlet, is in store for next week. After that, the Tigers travel to Oxford to play a tough an Ole Miss team that downed LSU there just a couple of weeks ago. Oxford is tough crowd, but Missouri has dealt with crowd noise already this year, in Athens when they took on the Bulldogs. Coming off of the bye week I think Pinkel gets the team prepared, and James Franklin gets himself ready for his last SEC road game. I look for tailbacks Henry Josey, and Russell Hansbrough to get back to 100%, after taking their fair share of hits. With two weeks to watch film, and game plan, the Tigers will look to come out of the gate hot.
Missouri ranks in the top 25 in both points for, and against, while Mississippi ranks lower than 45 in both categories. The plan that makes the most sense to me is to keep the ball away from the Rebels' offense. Missouri's defense has spent more time on the field than most teams in the entire league. Creating turnovers has been big for the defense, while teams have had success moving the ball, the 27 forced turnovers have been a major factor in the outcome of the games. I see no reason why Mizzou should lose to Ole Miss, especially after the bye week.
Texas A&M has the number one scoring offense in the SEC, and it doesn't take two guesses to figure why. Gary Pinkel and Dave Steckel will need to come up with something to stop Johnny Manziel much like LSU and Florida did last year. Missouri will have to study film really hard, and not get caught up in the "there's nothing you can do" idea that the media portrays. If Steckel comes up with something to stop Manziel, then all is fine, but if it doesn't work the offense needs to be ready for a shootout. I believe Missouri can win in a shootout against Texas A&M, because Alabama and Auburn outscored them, with offenses that aren't exactly known for winning them games. Special teams and field position could play a pivotal role in stopping Manziel as well, making him work for a whole drive rather than a couple big plays, and do it all night long. Running the ball with the trio of backs will be key too for Missouri, so they can control the clock and keep Manziel off of the field. If Missouri can score early, win the turnover and field position battle, and stop A&M on third down, they will win this game.