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South Carolina 27, Missouri 24: What happens next will define Tigers' season

Peter Aiken

The Trib: Missouri's dream season gets murky

Had the Tigers sealed the deal on the Gamecocks last night, they would have all but wrapped up the East. Now, it's hard to even consider them the favorites. They probably need to run the table, as South Carolina's only two remaining SEC games are at home against Mississippi State and Florida, and the Gamecocks have the tiebreaker on the Tigers if the race ends in a two-way tie. Even the mangled remains of Georgia (4-3, 3-2) and Florida (4-3, 3-2) still have a shot to make it a three-way tie at the top.

In other words, Missouri's perfect season got messy in a hurry.

The Missourian: Frustrated after 27-24 loss to South Carolina, Missouri football hopes to pull it together

Next week, Missouri takes on Tennessee at home in another crucial league game. With Saturday's loss, the margin of error becomes slimmer, but the Tigers are still in the hunt for the SEC Championship.

It was easy to forget that in Missouri's locker room after the game. After bursting with emotion following wins over Georgia and Florida, Missouri's locker room was silent.

The loss hung in the air with a weight that could crush the team. But in two days, Missouri would have to get back to work because the next game just got a whole lot bigger.

"This game will not define our season," Britt said. "How we come back from this game will define our season."

Fox Sports MW: Mizzou's loss is a team effort, and now Tigers must let it go

Hurts, doesn't it?

Now flush it.

Let it go.

If sending Baggett, the Tigers' sophomore placekicker out of Lee's Summit, Mo., hate tweets or nasty emails helps you sleep at night, fine. Congratulations.

Here's a quarter. Get a life and a clue, not necessarily in that order.

Flush it.

Let it go.

As much as last night's loss stings, as frustrating as it is to have watched both a lead and a complete lockdown of the East race slip away, the next 120 minutes of football mean every bit as much as the last 60 did. Missouri isn't in the BCS title race at the moment -- quite a few good things would need to happen to get the Tigers back in the race -- but there are two things still very much within reach: an East title and a 10-win season. Both require wins in the next two games. We really don't want to think about the latter without the former just yet, but a doubling of last year's win total would still be incredibly meaningful, and it probably won't happen if Mizzou doesn't bounce back and take care of business against two teams it should absolutely beat. Tennessee indeed beat South Carolina but barely ranks in the F/+ top 50 (the Gamecocks did the Vols quite a few favors), and Kentucky has a pretty good offense but a bad defense.

We don't know when James Franklin or E.J. Gaines will be back, but we know Missouri must focus as quickly as possible on the rebound and on the Vols. Last night finished horribly, but the season doesn't have to.