COLUMBIA — Only two weeks remain in the 2013 college football regular season for the Missouri Tigers. The two games left however, are far from easy victories, starting with a road game Saturday against No. 24 Ole Miss.
Missouri still leads the Southeastern Conference East Division, but one loss will put the Tigers in a tie with South Carolina, which owns the tiebreaker because of its double overtime victory against the Tigers in October.
The Tigers have no room for error in the last two games, writes Tod Palmer of The Kansas City Star. "If the Tigers are aware there’s mounting pressure with no room for error, the team isn’t acknowledging it," he writes.
Pinkel on must-win games: Good players don't worry about pressure. "Be real disappointed if we put all kind of press on ourselves. #Mizzou— Tod Palmer (@todpalmer) November 18, 2013
In fact, the Tigers continue to carry a high level of confidence about them, writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.
Missouri has proven many wrong throughout the season, rising as high as No. 5 in the BCS rankings, while many picked the Tigers to struggle in their second SEC season. Pinkel has been a main reason behind the changes, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Miklasz points out many of the aesthetic changes to the offense, such as using tight ends as blockers and a "compressed" offensive line. But it's mostly because Pinkel has "remained deeply connected to the core coaching values instilled in him by the legendary (Don) James," he writes.
Those changes have also put Pinkel in the running for SEC Coach of the Year, though Tony Barnhart of CBS Sports writes it could also go to Gus Malzahn at Auburn. Pinkel was also named as one of the 16 finalists for the Maxwell Club national coach of the year award this week.
Senior quarterback James Franklin will return to the starting lineup this week. But freshman Maty Mauk could still see some playing time, writes Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Mauk shined in his fill-in role for Franklin, passing for 10 touchdowns in four games, but Franklin has still proved to be the more productive quarterback, Palmer writes.
Franklin, like Mauk in recent weeks, will benefit from a tall wide-receiving corps, Matter writes — one that has outmatched most other SEC secondaries this season, including Kentucky, as seen below in one of Mauk's four touchdown passes to Dorial Green-Beckham.
(Video: Mizzou Network)
Hugh Freeze on Mizzou WRs: It's a scary matchup. ... Their size-speed ratio at receiver is really special. And it's not just one of them.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) November 20, 2013
Ole Miss is out of the running for the SEC West crown, but the team has come on strong of late. The Rebels have won their last four, including a win against LSU. The Rebels have also played four teams that at one time this season have been in the Top 10.
"The problem with this league is that you look at the teams we lost to, and they're all in the top 10, and so is Missouri."— Hugh Kellenberger (@HKellenbergerCL) November 18, 2013
Head coach Hugh Freeze said this week he "wasn't surprised" at Missouri's one-year turnaround, Matter writes.
And as Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion Ledger writes, Ole Miss can't overlook Missouri this week, despite the Tigers being new to the SEC.
The Rebels are coming off a 51-21 victory over Troy last week — one that showed just how explosive the young team can be, as seen below.
The Rebels have had an up and down season, Greg Ostendorf of ESPN writes. On Saturday against Missouri, Ole Miss will be looking for more of one of its "ups" of the season — a 27-24 win over LSU — instead of a "down" — a 25-0 loss against Alabama.
On Nov. 30, the Tigers face Texas A&M for the final regular game of the season.
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.