It’s almost inconceivable to consider the fact that Missouri is about to enter its 8th season of SEC play. During that time, the school has endured its share unforgettable moments and head-scratching calamities.
From its SEC inception, Mizzou was looked at as inferior and second-class. That all changed after back to back SEC East titles, but the hardships were far from over. Two very lean years and a coaching change would follow but the program has managed to keep its proverbial head above water and has begun to sustain momentum once again.
Top 5 Moments of Missouri’s SEC era
1. A dream fulfilled
Following a less-than-stellar 5-7 SEC debut in 2013, there wasn’t a lot of hype surrounding the 2013 squad. With expectations low, Mizzou steamrolled through the non-conference slate undefeated and dispatched of Vanderbilt and Georgia to begin SEC play. Despite quarterback James Franklin’s shoulder injury the team kept winning with freshman Maty Mauk at the helm.
A devastating home loss to South Carolina would not derail this determined team as wins over Tennessee and finally Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies in the season finale would send Missouri to the SEC Championship game in just the program’s second year in the conference. It would be incumbent running back Henry Josey’s 57-yard scamper in the 4th quarter to put a stamp on the game and capped off an 11-1 regular season. It may not have ended with a National Championship appearance, but a win in Athens and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State in dramatic fashion will never be forgotten in Columbia .
2. The repeat
Undoubtedly, 2013 would be a tough act to follow for Mizzou after losing key talent all over the field. An early loss to Indiana seemed to indicate that this team was about to fall off a cliff and an SEC opening 27-0 loss to Georgia didn’t do much to change that opinion. All the Tigers did from there was reel off 7 straight conference victories including a dramatic, come-from-behind win against rival Arkansas in the season finale.
While Missouri’s passing game fell apart behind quarterback Maty Mauk, the Tiger defense led by Shane Ray and Markus Golden stepped up time and again and helped Mizzou win road games at Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M down the stretch. Faurot Field would once again be rushed by thousands of fans as the team celebrated its second consecutive SEC East title, proving that the first once was not a fluke.
3. A romp in the Swamp
While 2018 looked like it was starting to turn in to another house of horrors for Mizzou, the Tigers steamrolled the #11 Gators in Gainesville salvaging their season in the process. Following two heart-wrenching losses to South Carolina and Kentucky, Mizzou was on the precipice of a mediocre season and forgettable finish.
The Tigers’ November rally would begin with a complete and utter dominant performance in which Missouri outplayed Florida from beginning to end, guaranteeing that Barry Odom would likely remain head coach for another season. The team wound up going undefeated in November for the second straight year giving the team 8 wins and hope for the future.
4. Dramatics in Knoxville
In an otherwise forgettable season devoid of positive moments that included an unfathomable string of injuries, Missouri limped towards Neyland Stadium on a perfect November afternoon in hopes of finding some momentum. After a sluggish start, Mizzou found themselves down 21-7 at halftime with little hope of a come back in sight. The team rallied to tie the game late, sending it to overtime.
In the fourth overtime, kicker Andrew Baggett connected from 35 yards giving the Tigers their first SEC road win and first ever victory over Tennessee. The win set Missouri up for a potential bowl berth, but a loss at home to Syracuse the following week would put an end to that as the team would finish 5-7 with very few positive moments to reflect on.
5. One final victory
There is no proper hyperbole to properly display what a disaster 2015 was for Mizzou. After back-to-back SEC East titles, the team completely fell apart, its quarterback was suspended and kicked off the team, a true freshman was thrust into action and on-campus protests threaten to tear the team in half.
With the season winding down and little hope in sight, Gary Pinkel, the school’s winningest coach in history, decided to retire due to a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. With the team in the tank, they collided with a solid BYU team at Arrowhead Stadium late in the year and were able to band together for a 20-16 win and an emotional Gary Pinkel was embraced by his team as he enjoyed one final victory as Missouri head coach.