Happy Black Friday, friends! On behalf of the entire Rock M Nation staff, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, friends and food.
There’s a lot of things to be thankful for as we head into the end of the year (and decade), and unfortunately, the 2019 football season has not been one of them. But as we prepare ourselves for the end of this tumultuous campaign, we have one more formality to attend to.
Congratulations to Ryan Herrera, the rightful winner of this year’s Pregamin’ Masthead Challenge, which a name I just made up. I originally had bigger and better plans to include the commentariat, but unfortunately things got lost in the shuffle. Until next year I suppose! Of course, there’s always this last week which I, as the arbiter of Pregamin’, could decide is worth like 1,000 points. The power at my fingertips is tantalizing!
[ahem] Anyway! LOAD UP YOUR PLATES WITH LEFTOVERS FOLKS AND POUR YOURSELVES A COLD ONE OR TWO! WE HAVE ONE LAST PREGAMIN’ TO ATTEND TO!
Does Mizzou have any leftovers in the tank?
- PowerMizzou says there’ll be just enough to satisfy Tiger fans.
- Dave Matter thinks they’ll be cold and soggy, but they’ll get the job done.
- Saturday Down South believes Missouri will dig deep to put together a satisfying Black Friday meal.
- Souichi Terada has the Tigers cooking up some leftover ham.
We’re at the end of the road, folks, and it’s hard to feel great about where we ended up. In a paragraph, describe how you’ll look back on the 2019 season.
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist — though one of the Mizzou beat’s biggest names has openly speculated about it — but something had to have happened between the Ole Miss and Vanderbilt games, right? Before that, the Tigers were playing like a Top 15 team. After, they turned into one of the Power Five’s worst. Even knowing what did/didn’t happen, I don’t think it would change my feelings of pained confusion.
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: Stupid and disappointing. A reminder that football is a tough sport to be consistently good at. Shadowed by the ridiculous regulatory body that can’t do anything correct or consistent and the specter of, “WHAT THE EFF HAPPENED AFTER THE OLE MISS GAME?????”
Sammy Stava, Staff Football Writer: Just … a tease. 5-1, ranked No. 22 in the country, and atop the SEC East at one point. I know it’s been said before, but something had to happen with team between the Ole Miss and Vanderbilt games, and we may never know what that is. It just feels like the complete opposite from the 2017 season. Considering the expectations this team had, it’s been one of the most disappointing seasons of Missouri Football in a while.
Ryan Faller, Columnist: The 2019 season is a hard one to explain. It offered so much promise back in August, and even with the “Uh, OK” loss to Wyoming, the five consecutive wins made it appear this program was right on target for another November charge. Then, the wheels fell off, and I still can’t figure out why. Is the current talent simply not what we thought? Is the staff not preparing its players well consistently? It’s probably a mixture of the two.
Like many others, I’ll be curious to find out if something surfaces during the offseason regarding that 7-day stretch between Ole Miss and Vandy. In that span, did something happen internally? I suppose it’s not exactly fair to speculate, but it’s the only thing I can think of that would have the power to submarine a season in such quick and excruciating fashion.
The NCAA penalties hung like a specter over this season and, as we know, they ended up coming down on the football team hard. Do you think they played into the team’s performance this year?
Josh Matejka: It’s hard to say no as a whole — you have to think there were at least a few guys who might have been forcing things in order to show the NCAA up. But overall, it can’t have played that big a factor. If it did, there’s a whole separate discussion that needs to happen about the coaching staff’s ability to motivate this team.
Nate Edwards: No. It’s almost better to be playing under possible postseason bans because then you don’t have to play really good teams at the end of the year and possibly lose. I’ve almost convinced myself of this.
Sammy Stava: I honestly think it had something to do with it. That doesn’t excuse the mind boggling losses, but at the time the team was 5-1, it looked like a New Year’s Six bowl was in play. It’s fair to ask that if the decision was made by October with clarity on the bowl situation, would this second half gone differently? I’d lean towards yes.
Ryan Faller: We can only assume the NCAA made its decision this week — not a month or so ago, when the slide started. If the decision was made in October and the NCAA did not tell Mizzou until now, shame on the NCAA. If Mizzou was told of the decision in October, then props to whoever kept that under wraps. But, we’d also have to be extremely worried about the staff’s ability to motivate the players.
To me, knowing you’re not going to play in a conference championship or bowl game with 5-6 weeks left in the season leaves you playing with house money. All caution is thrown to the wind. That’s clearly not the mentality this team has played with since mid-October.
All summer, we were told that the possibility of the ban being upheld was going to be used as a battlecry. You know what would be cool? Let’s win the SEC East and force the NCAA’s hand. That didn’t work. You can’t use the ban as motivation and an explanation as to why things are going well and then as an excuse when everything turns sour.
Of course there’s one more game to be played. What would you like to see against Arkansas that would make you feel even remotely better heading into the offseason?
Josh Matejka: Win. Preferably by a lot.
Nate Edwards: Beat the ever loving shirt out of them. 69 to nothing [editor’s note: nice]. Anything else and I won’t remember a damn thing.
Sammy Stava: It’s REALLY hard to look forward to this game. Missouri has to treat this like it’s their bowl game, because there is still something to play for. It’s a so-called “rivalry” game with a trophy involved, so go ahead and win it. Why not? Barry Odom’s job may very well be on the line in this one, and you’d like to see Kelly Bryant and the rest of these seniors go out as a winner – at the very least. A win over Arkansas will mean ultimately very little, but take some frustration out on the NCAA and make this a complete blowout. Go into the offseason with a bowl game to play for in 2020.
Ryan Faller: Just win, dammit. Just win. You cannot lose to Arkansas, which is on the verge of becoming the worst team in SEC history, statistically speaking. Please, just win. I don’t care how you do it.
For the final time: PICK ‘EM! Score, over/under and MVP prediction.
Josh Matejka: Lmao the o/u is 54.5, there’s no way they’re even getting close to that. 23-13 Missouri. Tyler Badie grabs two touchdowns for MVP honors.
Nate Edwards: Under and Larry Rountree
Sammy Stava: Score: Mizzou 34, Arkansas 3. O/U – under, MVP – Kelly Bryant throws for 325 yards and 3 TDs in his final game as a Missouri Tiger.
Ryan Faller: Sigh … let’s go with Mizzou, 31-18. Under. My MVP is Tyler Badie (he’s been the one offensive constant all season). Here’s to more Victory Whiskey in 2020, the year of Connor (or Shawn Robinson).