Mon, 02 Dec 2013 01:47:25 GMT — Simply amazing, isn't it? Is this really happening? Apparently it is, unless we're all having the same dream. And if we are, please don't wake us. If you predicted Missouri would play Auburn in the SEC championship game at the start of the season, I have one of two things to say to you: 1. You're a liar. 2. We're going to Vegas. But here we are --- the No. 5 Missouri Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC East champions) are now preparing for the No. 3 Auburn Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC West champions) for the SEC Championship Game at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Last year, Missouri was 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the SEC. Missouri's two SEC wins were against Kentucky and Tennessee, two teams that had a combined 1-15 conference record. The one win? When they played each other. Auburn was 3-9 and 0-8 last year. The Bad News Bears have turned into the '27 Yankees. The frog has turned into a prince. But now, you have Georgia on your mind. "How about those Tigers? I'm so proud of our team and coaches," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "This season was on a mission, because last year was a tough year in the history of our program. "Our guys got back in January and what they said was: 'Well, this is what we have to do.' January, February, March, methodically going through their schedule, their preparation. "I told you before, these guys play, they flat-out play. They play very, very hard every game, and they play at a high level." Missouri punched its ticket to Atlanta on Saturday night in Columbia, wrapping up this splendid regular season with a come-from-behind 28-21 over reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny (Football) Manziel and Texas A&M. The Tigers won it by outscoring the Aggies 21-7 in the second half. It was the first time this season Missouri trailed at the half. "We made some plays," Pinkel said. "You have to make plays, it is not magic out there." Worth noting: James Franklin rushed for 80 yards and passed for 233 and two touchdowns; Henry Josey busted free for a 57-yard scoring run with 3 1/2 minutes left to win it; the defense held Johnny Football to just 195 yards passing and 216 total yards, 142 yards below his average; and Missouri forced a turnover for the 42nd straight game. "It is big time for this program, especially after where we were last year," sophomore center Evan Boehm said. "Everyone counted us out this year at the beginning, but we knew as a unit and as a team that we could be the best. "We didn't let anyone else tell us differently. It's a special moment right now to be a Missouri Tiger." Indeed. Saturday night, Faurot Field had more electricity than Ben Franklin's kite. "The players, the coaches, the fans ... everybody played their part," Pinkel said. "It was an amazing atmosphere." Now, let's take a quick look at Auburn. If you haven't been paying attention, well, they have their own wow-factor. Auburn has pulled off two Miracles on Ice and Grass in its last two games. Do the Tigers have Divine Intervention on their side? Are they football's God Squad? And Tim Tebow isn't even on the roster? * MIRACLE ONE ... Nov. 16 at Auburn. Just over 30 seconds left, Auburn had it 4th-and-18 from its own 27. Georgia led 38-37, erasing a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead with less than two minutes left. A heave downfield by Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall was going to be intercepted by one of two Georgia defenders. Ball game. Instead, they knocked it away from each other, the ball fluttered into the air and dropped into the hands of Ricardo Lewis. Touchdown. Auburn 43, Georgia 38. Ball game. The Immaculate Deflection. * MIRACLE TWO ... Saturday at Auburn. The set up ... Auburn tied it at 28-28 on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to Sammie Coates against No. 1 Alabama with just 32 seconds left. For starters, that seemed unlikely. But then ... Time ran out after Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon gained 23 yards to the Auburn 39. But upon further review, time didn't run out and they put one second back on the clock. No Hail Mary attempt, instead of 57-yard field goal attempt. Two yards short, caught by Chris Davis under the goal post. Davis promptly returns it 109 yards. Touchdown. Auburn 34, Alabama 28. Ball game. Simply amazing. On the flip side, no miracle wins for MU this season, but they did have the anti-miracle or they'd be 12-0 --- blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead (at home) in a 27-24 double-overtime loss to South Carolina, a game that ended when Andrew Baggett missed a field goal to send it to a third OT. The miss was from 24 yards. Or basically an extra point. Ouch. But that ill-gotten boot is long-since forgotten, or at least it should be. If Missouri wins Saturday --- and if either Florida State loses to Duke (won't happen) or Ohio State loses to Michigan State (could happen, but probably won't) --- the Tigers would surely end up in the Top 2 of the BCS. And they'd play for the national championship. Wow. To even put Missouri in that conversation in December, well ... Simply amazing. Georgia, Georgia The whole day through Just an old sweet song Keeps Georgia on my mind See you in Atlanta.
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