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In the Huddle: Mizzou needs to avoid a letdown

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Mizzou history carries many examples of letdowns after big wins. Is this the year where the Tigers flip the script?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Recent history tells us there’s a pattern that follows Mizzou Football after big wins.

Take, for instance, arguably one of the best — if not the best — teams in Mizzou Football history, the 2007 Tigers. The team posted a 12-win season, finishing atop the Big XII North, bagged a decisive win over the then-ranked Jayhawks to go to No. 1 in the BCS standings, and finished one game away from playing for a national championship.

Still though, arguably the best football team in school history had a big let down. As one might remember, the Tigers finished 12-2 that season, losing only to Oklahoma, led by Sam Bradford and their high-powered offensive attack. Following that decisive win over kansas at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, the Tigers traveled to San Antonio the next week for the Big XII Championship. The Tigers proceeded to take a beating that ultimately set them back behind ku in bowl game standings.

Situations like this seemingly haunt the Tigers’ history. Whether it’s the “Fifth Down” game, losses in back-to-back SEC Championship games in 2013 and 2014, or losing to Nebraska in 2010 season, the Tigers are no strangers to letdowns following historic wins.

The Tigers are two weeks removed from defeating the defending national champion LSU Tigers. After some schedule juggling, Kentucky is headed to Faurot Field this Saturday, carrying a five-game win streak over the Tigers with them. Are Mizzou fans ready for another drop in the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Football?

There are a couple important things to remember when looking at a situation like this from a locker room perspective. First, every season is a new season. Not only is this season new, but so is the staff. This staff, however new to the SEC style of play they may be, has a track record of winning big games when they matter. It just so happens that came to fruition just a few short weeks ago.

Second, each team is new. One might remember a time where Mizzou was the proverbial doormat of the conference — both in the Big XII and SEC. Over the greater part of the last decade, Mizzou has shown its ability to hang with the big boys, touting two SEC East titles, a handful of bowl game bids, and several highly-touted draft picks. This year’s Missouri team doesn’t have those things to fall back on, but that spirit of improbability carries on through the program. And when this year’s team was counted out, they made the seemingly impossible happen. Every team is new, but every team carries something intangible with them.

In order for Mizzou to avoid letdowns like they’ve experienced in the past, the Tigers have to understand that momentum can shift at any time. Already this season, the team has known what it’s like to feel at the bottom, and then suddenly on top of the football world. To carry any momentum you might have, you must remember that you’re only as good as your last game. That LSU team was no joke.

Mizzou pulled off an extraordinary team win, but what it proven is that they’re capable. And while capability is nice in its own right, it has to be built upon. You can’t win if you’re not capable, but even capable teams need execution. This team knows who they are, and what they can do after LSU. And they must realize that settling for the last win won’t beat a completely different team.

The Tigers can’t afford to hang their hat. There was a rule in the locker room under Head Coach Gary Pinkel: “Yesterday’s game is over. Time to flush it and prepare for the next one. Learn from it, make adjustments, and over-prepare. We bring our A-game, we can beat anybody. We bring our B-game, anybody can beat us.”

A B-game won’t beat a team like Kentucky. To avoid laying an egg, the Tigers must build off what they learned about themselves two weeks ago. As the saying goes, “If you know better, you do better.” This #NewZou needs to turn games like LSU into a habit rather than a one-off, like we’ve seen in the past.