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Missouri getting a little top-25 love as the focus shifts to 2015

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The 2014 college football season officially ended last night, and while the post-mortems continue, so do the glances toward 2015. Here are your latest 2014 wrap-up and 2015 preview links.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou football superlatives
Post-Dispatch: A look ahead to 2015 for MU
Post-Dispatch: Pinkel's 2014 Tigers overcame early struggles

This season, though, Mizzou had uncharacteristic struggles completing passes. The month of October seemed to set the evolution of the forward pass back a century as Mauk couldn’t sustain his early-season success against nonconference foes. MU’s completion percentage (53.4) and passing yards per game (189.1) marked the lowest figures in Mizzou’s 10 seasons running the no-huddle spread. Mauk somewhat redeemed himself with moxie and his 25 touchdown passes.

"Every player on the field has plays they wish they could take back, but he just happens to be the quarterback and his plays get highlighted," Murphy said. "He’s done a great job all year overcoming adversity." [...]

"I think that’s what I’m most proud of," Pinkel said. "We had all that adversity. And a lot of people just kind of dismissed the thought that we’d have a good team, and we slowly but surely got back in and kept battling."

The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Is Barry Odom Turning Missouri's Defense into a 3-4?
The Trib (Behind the Stripes): How Good Can Missouri Be Next Season?
The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Which Returning MU Player Will Have the Biggest Impact on 2015?

Also, there's the fact that Missouri's interior linemen were crazy productive on their own this season to buttress what the ends were doing. Brantley, Matt Hoch, Lucas Vincent and Augusta combined for 155 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks on 1932 snaps this season. In 2013, Brantley, Hoch, Vincent, Augusta and Marvin Foster combined for 1853 total snaps.

They managed 122 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

The Tigers' top four defensive linemen combined for 15 percent of their total tackles, 27 percent of their tackles for loss and 28 percent of their sacks this past season. With less proven ends next time around, they might need even more than that from the interior.

Brantley being a nuisance -- either through filling stat sheets or filling blocking assignments -- benefits the ends because it drives attention inwards.

And that's before we even talk about his potential as a 290-pound bruiser in the offensive backfield.

PowerMizzou: Who's next?

Safety Anthony Sherrils; 6-foot, 190-lbs; RS sophomore: Sherrils is a guy plenty of people have been waiting to break out, and next year could be his time. If you need a glimpse of his athletic potential, look no further than him chasing down Texas A&M's Speedy Noil -- one of the fastest players in the SEC -- and catching him from behind on a long kick-off return in college station. Again, there's an opening at safety and Sherrils will get every opportunity to win a job as a starter.

USA Today: FBS team-by-team season grades: Six earn A+
USA Today (Paul Myerberg): Early look at Amway top 25 for 2015: They're all chasing Ohio State

18. Missouri (11-3)

Why No. 18? Because even as Missouri deals with a depleted receiver corps and losses along the defensive line, it's silly to count the Tigers out of the SEC race. Missouri might even be the preseason favorite in the East Division if not for those two issues: one, a completely rebuilt receiver corps, and two, the loss of a pair of superb defensive ends. But the schedule plays in the Tigers' favor, with Florida and South Carolina coming at home and Mississippi State and Arkansas coming out of the SEC West Division.

Land-Grant Holy Land: A way too early look at the 2015 College Football Top 25
Fox Sports: 2015 preseason top 25: Ohio State Buckeyes clear No. 1 team entering new year

22) Missouri Tigers (11-3)

After two straight division championships and double-digit win seasons, it would be unwise to write off the Tigers, even though they face a tall task replacing several wideouts and standout D-linemen Shane Ray and Markus Golden. QB Maty Mauk enters his third year as a starter and will benefit from an experienced and talented offensive line.