Slightly different from last year

At this time last year, the Missouri Tigers were getting ready to play their regular-season finale at Texas A&M.

Just like this year, it was two days after Thanksgiving.

The Tigers needed a win to get to 6-6 and become eligible for a lousy bowl game.

Instead, it was a lousy end to a lousy season.

Texas A&M 59, Missouri 29.

But it wasn't even that close. It was 42-0 with 3 1/2 minutes left ... in the FIRST HALF.

Missouri, however, had more injuries than an emergency room last year, so the season mercifully came to an end. For that, we should have been thankful.

Which brings us to this year ...

The rematch between the No. 19 Aggies (8-3, 4-3 SEC) and the No. 5 Tigers (10-1, 6-1) on Saturday in Columbia has a slightly different feel than last year.

And when I say slightly different, I mean the difference between your bank account and the bank account of Bill Gates. Or the difference between a super model in a tiny bikini compared to Roseanne Barr in the same.


With a win Saturday (the Tigers opened as a three-point favorite), they'd win the SEC East and play either Alabama or Auburn in the SEC title game on Dec. 7 in Atlanta.

Let's go ahead and say it's No. 1 Alabama. If Missouri somehow beats Alabama to win the SEC title, they could --- COULD --- vault into the top two of the BCS. If that's the case, well ... you know what happens.

"I think Missouri can beat Alabama," ESPN's David Pollack said. "I think they're in a position to give Alabama everything they want. They're a great football team."

What a difference a year makes, huh?

"We worked really hard to be in this position," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We are a good football team and when you're competing for a championship, you have to beat good teams."

Despite last year's beatdown, the Tigers have won three of the last four against the Aggies.

This is also worth noting:

* With a win, Gary Pinkel would earn his 101st win at Missouri, tying Don Faurot (1935-42, 46-56) for the school record. This is Pinkel's 13th season in Columbia. Here's hoping they keep it Faurot Field, and not name it Pinkel Field.

* With a win, this would be just the third 11-win season in school history. Two of those would have come under Pinkel.

* And oh, there's this --- Johnny (Football) Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, is coming to town. While the Aggies have lost three times, you can't really blame him. He's passed for 3,537 yards and 32 touchdowns and also leads the team in rushing (665 yards, eight scores). His 4,202 total yards leads the nation.

"I don't think you can look at it as stopping a great player like Johnny Manziel," said MU cornerback E.J. Gaines. "Rather, it's about containing him and slowing him down and helping our defense out."

First things first ... Turkey Day for the Tigers.

"We will have a Thanksgiving dinner here all set up for our team," Pinkel said, "and everybody has to go through it. Some guys will grab food and take it. Some of the Kansas City and St. Louis players will go back home for the day.

"A lot of guys take the out-of-state guys home with them, too. It's something that we have done the last couple years, and it has worked really well."

While the Tigers are watching the Lions beat the Packers and the Cowboys beat the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day, they will surely have other football matters on their mind.

"We just need to try our best and not think about it," said quarterback James Franklin, one of 18 seniors who will be recognized Saturday on Senior Day. "We need to focus on playing football and doing what we have done well all season.

"Hopefully, we won't let that outside stuff affect us."

Just be thankful, Tiger fans, Missouri is where it is now and not where they were last year.

Happy Thanksgiving.