I’m not even sure where to begin. But somebody has to write this damned pourover piece so I hope you bear with me as I make my way through any thoughts on what occurred on the field at Faurot on Saturday night.
Missouri won the football game, which is the most important part of the whole deal. It was never really fun, however, and that’s because the Florida Gators played really well. They played with purpose and made plays and made adjustments, and kept rolling with the punches. There were so many moments where it looked like Missouri would seize control of the game only to watch the Gators come up with a needed play or two to make things uncomfortable.
I hate how some, including the broadcast last night, seem to refer to Florida as some plucky upstart taking on the Goliath Tigers. Narratives can shift in a hurry, but Missouri started the season with a Quarterback competition and were expected to finish 6th in the East Division. The Gators were picked 5th, so this was expected to be a game of two bottom half teams in the SEC. A 5th place finish is, and should be, considered a disappointing finish for the Gators. Even though the Billy Napier is trying to rebuild things in Gainesville, they are still Florida. We should not be surprised when they play competent football, and they were more than competent against the Tigers.
But there’s just something about this team and this season. If you are going to have a special season, you need some help. Nate Edwards has spoken of it, Bill Connelly often talked about it, you might call it diving intervention. If you’re less devout, maybe it’s just luck.
It’s a 61 yard game winning field goal. It’s a fake punt conversion. It’s a 4th and 17 to just extend hope a little further.
This year hasn’t been without critical mistakes. Interceptions in both the LSU and Georgia games killed any momentum for a comeback or win. But sometimes that's the margin. The difference between a spot in the college football playoff or a NY6 bowl or Shreveport sometimes comes down to just a handful of plays.
Beating the pants off Tennessee and South Carolina are great, but just as important was holding on against Middle Tennessee, and finding a way against Florida. You can’t be perfect all the time, so just try to be good enough to notch the right letter in the right column at the end of the day. Be 1-0 for the week.
Missouri was far from perfect, quite clearly. Florida brought their fight and had no intention on going home with a loss. If they’re able to hold on to a 4th and 17 things are very different. But if Mizzou had held on 4th and 4 when they were up 30 to 21 they’d have held the ball at the Gators 31 yard line then they’re probably up at least 33-21 with 9 or 10 minutes left. Or better they’re up 37-21. But they failed to hold and the Gators took advantage. Just as their own soft coverage on 4th and 17 left the door wide open for Mizzou.
So much of these games come down to little moments like that. You can’t beat someone like Mizzou beat Tennessee every week. In order to win that big you have to have most of the moments on your side. And it helps to have the momentum that Missouri has built up over the weeks.
On a night when Missouri was not at their best they found a way to be good enough to win. They’re one win away from winning double digit games since 2014. Enjoy this, Mizzou fans. These seasons, even as uncomfortable as last night was, aren’t something that comes around very often. The SEC is a really difficult league to win 5 games in, much less 6 or 7. Georgia has won 8 now three years in a row and that’s never happened. Missouri has won 5 SEC games with a chance at 6. They’re in company with Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss as teams with a chance to reach 6 or more.
The 2023 Mizzou Football team takes the field next Friday with a chance to complete their special season by beating Arkansas. Do that and you’re playing on New Years against a very good opponent with a guaranteed 10 wins in your pocket. It’s a memorable season already, but no reason to stop now.
Other SEC Scores:
- Georgia (1) 38, Tennessee (18) 10
- Alabama (8) 66, Chattanooga 10
- Ole Miss (13) 35, UL Monroe 3
- LSU (15) 56, Georgia State 14
- South Carolina 17, Kentucky 14
- Mississippi State 41, Southern Miss 20
- Texas A&M 38, Abilene Christian 10
- New Mexico State 31, Auburn 10
- Arkansas 44, Florida International 20