Mizzou Football Thrives in Second Year in SEC - The Missourian: Sports

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Mizzou Football Thrives in Second Year in SEC

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Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 1:00 pm

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Gary Pinkel was in no mood for holiday cheer a year ago.

Missouri had just gone a dispiriting 5-7 in its SEC debut season, the program’s first losing record since 2004.

“I love Christmas music,” Pinkel recalled. “But I’ll tell you, we’re not going to a bowl, I didn’t listen to any Christmas music. I didn’t want to feel good.”

There has been no sophomore slump for the fifth-ranked Tigers, who surprised nearly everyone by advancing to the SEC championship game against No. 3 Auburn on Saturday.

Picked to finish sixth in the SEC East, Missouri (11-1, 7-1 SEC) is a remarkable bounce-back story, at the least on par with Auburn (11-1, 7-1).

“When I look at Missouri, they do remind me of our team in a lot of ways,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “You are talking about a team that can rise to the occasion.”

No matter what happens on Saturday, the Tigers have shown they do indeed belong in the conference that’s produced the last seven national champions.

“We knew what kind of talent we had, what team we had in the offseason,” senior linebacker Andrew Wilson said. “We knew what we had coming to us.”

The 61-year-old Pinkel has 101 wins in 13 seasons at Missouri, tied with the legendary Don Faurot for most in school history. He’s a finalist for Maxwell Coach of the Year.

So, yes, he can laugh about the chatter that he’d that he’d been distracted by a DUI in 2011 and a divorce in 2012, and had lost enthusiasm for the job. One five-win season was all it took.

“Me, in the hot seat? You kidding? Is that out there?” Pinkel joked, then added, “I’ve never, ever worried about that.”

The criticism seemed over the top to St. Louis Rams center Tim Barnes, who was a three-year starter under Pinkel at Missouri.

“A lot of people were panicking, a lot of people were wanting to fire coach Pinkel,” Barnes said. “I said, ‘Well, it’s going to be a rough year when you have that many people get hurt. This year just goes to show the job they’ve done and the kind of kids they’re bringing in.”

Last fall, Pinkel was almost defiant that Missouri was ready to make a move. He hasn’t wavered in that belief, saying last year was simply a case of getting overrun by injuries to quarterback James Franklin, All-Big 12 tailback Henry Josey and much of the offensive line.

This year, the line has been intact and a strength. Josey is a 1,000-yard rusher again, scoring the deciding touchdown against Texas A&M last weekend on a 57-yard sprint.

Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk was ready when Franklin was sidelined with a shoulder injury, and could have been 4-0 as the starter had Andrew Baggett not clanked a chip-shot field goal attempt to give South Carolina an overtime win.

No one folded. Missouri beat Tennessee 31-3 the next week and has won four in a row.

This is the second time Pinkel has guided Missouri to a conference title shot. The Tigers won 12 games in 2007 and were ranked No. 1 for a week before getting waxed by Oklahoma in the second half of the Big 12 title game.

Pinkel points out it’s been only three years since Auburn won its seventh SEC title, while Missouri’s last title was in 1969. Fans stormed the field after the Tigers held off Texas A&M on Senior Night but appeared more interested in soaking up the moment than dragging off the goal posts.

Leave it to offensive guard Max Copeland, a former walk-on from Billings, Mont., to sum up the ride thus far.

“Can’t you just feel the energy around this place and around this town?” Copeland asked. “I’m excited to be a part of it, and excited to be in the eye of the storm.”

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Area Scoreboard

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific 76, Union 57

Saturday, Dec. 20

Sullivan Shootout

Owensville vs. Rockwood Summit, 11:30 a.m.

Lindbergh 67, St. Clair 46

Jefferson City vs. Jackson, 2:30 p.m.

Washington 56, Lutheran South 54

Poplar Bluff 59, Borgia 49

Sullivan vs. Affton, 7 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Farmington 61, Pattonville 39

Sullivan 68, Owensville 64

Principia 55, St. Louis Patriettes 42

Borgia 56, Cuba 38

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James 72, New Haven 21

*Union 49, Pacific 48

Friday, Dec. 19

Francis Howell 55, Washington 48

Sullivan Tournament

Seventh Place — Pattonville vs. St. Louis Patriettes, 4 p.m.

Consolation — Farmington vs. Principia, 5:30 p.m.

Third Place — Owensville vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.

Championship — Borgia 62, Sullivan 35

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Kennedy 88, Washington 84

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Lindbergh 128, Washington 48

*Conference Games

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