Consider Missouri football's entrance into the national Top 25 polls this week. Maybe it's representative of the instability across the college football landscape. Highly ranked teams including Oklahoma and USC have already suffered surprising losses, and the Tigers have moved up into the polls by beating … nobody.
Missouri did in fact have a weekend off, culminating in appearances in both the Associated Press (No. 24) and USA Today Coaches' polls (No. 18). But maybe it's not that simple.
When ranked teams lose, they get punished by voters. If those teams are barely in the Top 25 to begin with, they usually fall out, and teams on the cusp of getting in (as Missouri was) take their spots.
Of course, Missouri is still the same team it would be without a ranking, and the same goes for Thursday's opponent, No. 21/22 Nebraska.
Still, the spotlight for an already highly anticipated game has been brightened with numbers before the names "Missouri" and "Nebraska" on television. Players and coaches talk most about winning an important conference game, especially one against a Big 12 North Division foe. But whether Missouri wins or loses, the outcome will be viewed by fans and journalists as a statement regarding the strength of the Tigers.
Do you think the Tigers are now under more pressure to prove themselves to their fans and the nation?