TIGERS REPORT: Big 12 defectors Missouri, Texas A&M face off as realignment continues

Friday, November 23, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST; updated 12:23 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs through the tackle of Alabama defensive back Deion Belue (13) during the first half of the teams' college football game Nov. 10 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

COLUMBIA — This is a strange week for Missouri and Texas A&M fans.

Tigers fans are used to enjoying Thanksgiving and then heading to Kansas City to watch Missouri take on archrival Kansas.

Aggies fans are used to enjoying Thanksgiving only if the night ends with a win against in-state rival Texas.

Instead, fans will watch Missouri and Texas A&M play each other Saturday in the last game of the regular season. Both teams left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference this season at the expense of their biggest rivalries.

The change allowed Texas A&M players to spend Thanksgiving Day celebrating rather than playing a game. Texas still played Thursday, replacing the Aggies on the schedule with Texas Christian University (which joined the Big 12 from the Big East). TCU defeated Texas, 20-13.

Role reversals

Although they won't be playing Kansas, Saturday is still a big game for the Tigers. Missouri needs to win to become bowl-eligible.

Because of scheduling changes as a result of conference realignment, this is actually the third straight year that Missouri plays Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Although Texas A&M is considered to have one of the best home-field advantages in the country, Missouri won both of the previous games.

This year's matchup doesn't seem to bode as well for the Tigers. Texas A&M is 9-2 and freshman Johnny Manziel has been one of the most effective quarterbacks in the nation and could win the Heisman Trophy.

The Aggies' season has surprised a lot of people, who expected the Tigers to be the one having more success than the Aggies in their first years in the SEC. The biggest surprise came when Texas A&M beat then-No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., two weeks ago.

Realignment continues

Missouri and Texas A&M were two of the first schools to change conferences in what has become rampant conference realignment in college sports.

The Big Ten made the latest big splash earlier this week by announcing the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. When the Terrapins and Scarlet Knight join, the Big Ten will match the SEC at 14 members.

Missouri showed interest in joining the Big Ten a few years ago before the conference decided to add Nebraska instead.

Big games in the SEC this weekend

No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) will clinch the SEC West with a win against Auburn (3-8, 0-7) on Saturday. If Alabama suffers an upset, the division could potentially be won by No. 5 LSU (9-2, 5-2) or No. 9 Texas A&M (5-2 in conference play) depending on the results of other games this weekend.

The winner of the SEC West will face No. 3 Georgia (10-1, 7-1, SEC East champion) in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 in Atlanta.

The winner of the SEC Championship Game will most likely play in the BCS National Championship Game after the top-ranked teams in the BCS Standings — Kansas State and Oregon — both suffered losses last week. No. 4 Florida, which finished second in the SEC East, also could potentially find its way into the BCS title game as long as the Gators beat No. 10 Florida State on Saturday.

Supervising editor is Frank Russell.

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