Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 29, 2013 at 7:00 PM
It seemed impossible before the 2013 college football season started. The Missouri Tigers were picked to finish #6 out of seven teams in the SEC East. They may have been a top 50 team (the respected Athlon magazine had them at #48 nationally). But, the SEC was loaded…and Missouri supposedly didn’t have the talent to compete with the big boys.
Georgia was picked to win the SEC East, and was #4 nationally in Athlon
South Carolina was neck-and-neck with Georgia, and was picked #5 nationally in Athlon
Florida was a serious threat in the division, and was picked #13 nationally in Athlon
The division was frontloaded in the extreme. And, pundits didn’t even expect Missouri to be better than Vanderbilt and Tennessee let alone compete with the powers.
But, compete they did. Thanks to quality play up and down the roster, and injuries to key players for Georgia and Florida, it’s come down to Missouri and South Carolina battling for first place in the East and the right to play the Alabama/Auburn winner in the conference title tilt. South Carolina has a heads up win over Missouri (in a game that Tigers starting quarterback James Franklin missed), but suffered an extra loss in league play. If Missouri can beat Texas A&M Saturday Night in Columbia (in a game that will be televised nationally by ESPN), then the impossible dream will have come true.
Can the Tigers finish the job, and cover Saturday Night’s spread while doing so? Let’s crunch some numbers…
SUMMARY SINCE SEPTEMBER
Texas A&M (-8) won at Ole Miss 41-38 (winning yardage 587-462)
Texas A&M (-12) lost to Auburn 45-41 (losing yardage 602-615)
Texas A&M (-17) beat Vanderbilt 56-24 (winning yardage 558-329)
Texas A&M (-47) beat UTEP 57-7 (winning yardage 564-198)
Texas A&M (-38) beat Mississippi State 51-41 (winning yardage 537-536)
Texas A&M (+4) lost at LSU 34-10 (losing yardage 299-517)
The Aggies have been a disappointment this season. Their defense has been absolutely atrocious, making it tougher for Johnny Football to work his magic on offense. Still, they’re still a strong team for a “disappointment.” They took Alabama to the wire, and probably should have beaten Auburn. The first real black mark of the season came last week when they were uncompetitive at LSU. It’s telling that it was a rare road game for the Aggies. Saturday’s game at Missouri represents their longest road trip of the season. Will they no-show again?
Missouri (-3) won at Vanderbilt 51-28 (winning yardage 52-468)
Missouri (+7) won at Georgia 41-26 (losing yardage 375-454)
Missouri (+3) beat Florida 36-17 (winning yardage 500-151)
Missouri (-3) lost to South Carolina 27-24 in OT (losing yardage 404-498)
Missouri (-11) beat Tennessee 31-3 (winning yardage 502-334)
Missouri (-14) won at Kentucky 48-17 (winning yardage 426-369)
Missouri (-2) won at Ole Miss 24-10 (winning yardage 485-378)
There’s just enough mystery in there to keep things interesting. Missouri is by no means a fluke. But, they did allow 454 yards to Georgia, and then almost 500 yards in an OT loss to South Carolina. Those are the only good offenses on the rundown above. Texas A&M has a very good offense! Missouri may have to win a shootout to survive the weekend…and they haven’t played any shootouts vs. good teams while under this much pressure.
Current Vegas Line: Missouri by 4.5, total of 67
It’s easy to see this game blowing up in either direction. If A&M has lost its fight during a disappointing season, then we’ll see a replay of last week and a very easy win for the Tigers. If the Aggies have a chip on their shoulder in a bounce-back spot, they could easily win outright against a nervous team unsure if it’s really qualified to make history. That line could be off by 14 points in either direction!
JIM HURLEY has been utilizing all the weapons in his team handicapping approach to make sure he finds the right side in this game. Of course, the dynamics may be so volatile that it’s best to pass the game and invest elsewhere. You only get the best plays on the board when you sign up with NETWORK! We’re also looking very closely at games like Alabama/Auburn, Ohio State/Michigan, UCLA/USC and many other rivalry thrillers.
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Back with you Sunday and Monday to run the numbers for Washington/NY Giants and New Orleans/Seattle. The winning is just beginning for JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK as our FOOTBALL FEAST of BIG, JUICY TURKEY SHOOT WINNERS continues!