COLUMBIA — Patricia Doss, a four-year Missouri season ticket holder, stood in the 18-degree weather Friday morning outside the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex, cheering on the football players as they boarded three waiting buses.
She was among about 30 fans who braved the chilly weather to bid adieu to the 11-1 Tigers as they set off for the 2013 SEC Championship game in Atlanta.
Her cheers blended with chants of "M-I-Z" and "Real tigers wear black and gold" ringing through the parking lot. James Franklin flashed a smile and thumbs-up, while most of his teammates set their eyes straight ahead as they walked past the crowd.
Doss has been in the stands at every Missouri home game this season. She also made the trek to Nashville, Tenn., and Oxford, Miss., for the Vanderbilt and Ole Miss games. She wasn't able to make it to the SEC Championship game, but she still wanted to share her support.
"I wasn't a sports fan until I moved to Columbia," Doss said. "I feel like they deserve a lot of support. They're a special team; they're so easy to like."
Also among those sending off the Tigers was Kate Henson, 7, who held a sign that read "O-LINE PRIDE GO MIZZOU."
Her babysitter, Samantha Mahan, took Kate out of school early that day so she could say goodbye to her father, offensive coordinator Josh Henson. As her father walked past, Kate ran over to him and gave him a hug.
When asked about her favorite player, Kate hesitated, then settled on Franklin.
As for the cutest player, she replied with a "Yuck!" and a grimace.
After the team boarded the buses, Doss took a moment to speculate on the outcome of Saturday's game, saying she couldn't be sure how it would end.
"I think it's going to be really close, but I have no idea who will win," she said.
Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.