To most college football folks, the unlikeliest of SEC Championship Games will take place on Saturday when the third-ranked Auburn Tigers and the fifth-ranked Missouri Tigers will clash in Atlanta to determine SEC supremacy.
Last week, the Auburn Tigers completed one of the best turnarounds we’ve seen in quite some time under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn when they defeated Alabama in the Iron Bowl on a last second field goal return. That win capped an 11-1 regular season, after the majority of the players on this team went just 3-9 one year ago.
With Malzahn’s fast-paced, rushing-based offense, Auburn has been a nightmare for opposing defenses all season, as Alabama found out the hard way last weekend.
It may have been funny back in August to think of Auburn being in this position at the moment, but they’ve certainly earned the right to be in the position that they are.
But, so has Missouri, who has also completed an incredible turnaround under Gary Pinkel and are appearing in the title game in just their second year in the conference.
Last year was rough for Mizzou, as they struggled mightily through their first season as a member of the SEC. However, with a somewhat healthy team this year as opposed to last, Missouri has pulled off some impressive wins this year, and have themselves just one win away from calling themselves kings of the Southeastern Conference.
To make this game that much more meaningful, it should also be pointed out that the winner of this game could be heading off to Pasadena to play for the BCS National Championship, should either Ohio State or Florida State fall in front of them.
So, the implications for this one are all over the place.
Date: Dec. 7
Start Time: 4 PM ET
Location: Atlanta, GA
Stadium: Georgia Dome
TV Info: CBS
Odds: Auburn -2
Prediction: We have a match up on Saturday between two teams who can strike at any moment on offense. Missouri can sling the ball around with James Franklin, Dorial Green-Beckham and company. However, as we saw at the end of their win over Texas A&M last week, they can run the ball too with stud back Henry Josey.
As the year has progressed, Auburn has also become one of the most explosive offenses in the nation with their spread-option attack. Nick Marshall has improved at the QB position with every game he’s played, and Tre Mason has emerged as one of the best backs in all the land.
Still, don’t think that neither of these two can play defense as well.
In the second half of last week’s win over Alabama, Auburn held the Tide to just seven points, and Missouri was able to handle one of the more dynamic players in Johnny Manziel.
When these two meet, something has to give.
This game, in traditional SEC fashion, will come down to defense and in the end, I think that Mizzou might have just enough on that side of the ball with defensive end Michael Sam causing some issues for that Auburn run attack and forcing Marshall into some tricky situations throwing the ball.
Final Score: Missouri 28, Auburn 24