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November 20, 2013
Powered Up: The way it should be
If you're into silver linings, at least Justin Britt saved a few bucks on Saturday night.
"I was thinking about tweeting Aaron Murray, 'When do I have to buy you dinner?" Britt said.
Missouri's appearance in the SEC Championship Game seemed to be just seconds away. Auburn had lost a 20-point lead and was facing fourth and 18 in the final minute against Georgia. A Bulldog win would mean Missouri likely needed just one victory in its final two games to assure the Tigers a spot in the conference title game.
Everyone knows what happened. If you woke up from a coma some time in the last three days, you can see it here.
Auburn 44, Georgia 38. Coupled with South Carolina's 19-14 win over Florida, it meant the Tigers need to beat both Ole Miss and Texas A&M to make it to Atlanta.
"One of the great plays in college football," Gary Pinkel said. "If you're an Auburn fan, it was a great play. It was crazy. But those things happen. My whole thought process on that is, we're in control of our destiny. We weren't looking for any help and, you know, things happen. That play, we'll be watching for a long, long time."
"The Auburn guy made a great play so I guess it was meant to be for us just to win these two games outright," L'Damian Washington said. "I think we wouldn't want it any other way. We plan on finishing the season strong anyway. I think it's a little bit more added motivation."
"It's football. It's exciting," Donovan Bonner said. "If they lost, it would have helped us, but we're here now and as anybody would tell you, I wouldn't want it any other way. Me going out knowing whatever I did, whatever this team did, it's on us. I like it."
"We wouldn't want it any other way," Britt said. "It would be sweet to earn it because then they won't have any excuses after we earn it. We know what's at stake, we know what we have to do."
"I don't think it puts any extra pressure on us, just opportunity that we have to succeed," captain E.J. Gaines said. "I think this football team is excited about it."
The Tigers all say they wouldn't have it any other way. Who knows? Maybe they mean it. At this point, it's not like they have a choice.
For better or worse, Missouri now knows its path. And for the first time this year, they were actually willing to acknowledge what could lie at the end of that path.
"We know our goal at hand. There's no sense in trying to hide from the fact that if we win these last two games, we go to the SEC Championship. It's there, it's vivid. We got one job and that's to go 2-and-0 right now," Washington said. "A lot of people try to act like we don't see it and a lot of people try to act like, yeah, we don't know we got to go 2-0 to win an SEC Championship. I think it's one of those things you can't hide from."
For a program that was left for dead by the SEC wolves just a few short months ago, the path to the ultimate conference's ultimate game is still there. Yes, there are two fairly significant obstacles in the way, but with two wins, Missouri will be playing in the Georgia Dome on December 7th while South Carolina watches on television. Just what would it mean?
"It would mean so much to so many guys, and definitely these seniors, to go out like that," Gaines said. "I feel like the underclassmen are definitely playing for our seniors right now in a lot of ways. It's definitely exciting right now."
"It means a lot," Washington said. "Coming into the season, I said at the beginning, predictions basically mean nothing. I think we were predicted to finish like last in the East. I think Kentucky probably was behind us. We saw it...It would mean a lot to the program and it would mean a lot to us individually. It just would say a lot about Mizzou football."
"Mizzou's played in title games before," Britt said. "But second year in the SEC, when everybody said we couldn't, I think it would bring a lot of joy to everybody here."
"It would obviously be big for the state of Missouri, not just us," Bonner said. "This is obviously everyone here's first time. To get a championship would be monumental for Mizzou, Missouri itself and everyone in the Mizzou family."
And now, the journey begins.
"You don't need any more motivation. This is Monday, you take care of your school then you take care of your football. Then Tuesday, you wake up and do the same thing and so on, till game time. Talking and discussing anything else really is of no value," Pinkel said. "If you start thinking of all this stuff out there, you're not going to play your best. You don't have a chance.
"The beauty of my business, you've got to do it. That's the greatest thing about it. You can talk all you want, you can analyze all you want, but you've got to go out and play, you've got to make plays. You've got to do it."
At the end, should the Tigers fall short, undoubtedly they will look back on the final 13 minutes against South Carolina. Perhaps they'll wish they had indeed gotten some help and the Bulldogs had remembered to just knock it down. But for now, none of that matters. For now, the Tigers have two games, a hundred and twenty minutes in the span of eight days, to determine their destiny, to shut up all the skeptics, to drive this dream season all the way to the conference title game.
They'll have to do it the old fashioned way...they'll have to earn it.