Monday, October 22, 2007

Right Where They Should Be

Note - this post appears on our new ESPNU @ MIZZOU blog, as well.

This is a homer post. An unabashed, uncompromising piece of pro-Tiger propoganda from myself as a Tiger fan and MU student. Why a homer post to inaugurate this blog? Because that's how I feel right now; I'm about as pleased as I have ever been as a Tiger football backer, and it couldn't have come at a more welcome time.

You see, I didn't grow up following the Tigers. I'm one of those out-of-state J-school students who has his Apple laptop and out-of-state liscense plates and non-Cardinals baseball cap. I don't engage in those "Which St. Louis high school are you from" conversations that permeate the social culture of MU. Sometimes I'd like to - even if I was lying throughout the convo - I'd probably have made more friends here.

So my fandom spans ALL the way BACK to 2004. I know, such long suffering. I've been familiar with the fifth down, and the kicked ball touchdown against Nebraska, and the other painful letdowns of Mizzou lore, but not like the long-term Tiger fans. Still, my tenure here has been marred with negativity and bad news while I tried to immerse myself in my future alma mater's athletic program.

There was the Aaron O'Neal tragedy, the blown 2nd half leads at home in the '04 season, the unceremonious end to Quin's reign, that baseball player who assaulted someone with a bat a few years back, getting close and blowing big chances to advance to the College World Series, our basketball team's off-court issues this year, the blown lead in the Sun Bowl last year, and so on. All just my rite of passage as an MU fan.

This football season has been such a welcome break from that disappointment - so far. God knows they could very well break our hearts later on. That being said, I love where the Tigers are at this moment at 6-1: good enough to have a healthy buzz at home, not flashy enough to catch the ire of the national media. Beating OU would have put us directly into the national title conversation, which would have been fun, but completely unrealistic. Mizzou is not one of the top 5 teams in the country. Top 10? Possibly. The rest of MU's schedule will tell.

The Tigers have some difficult tests remaining on their schedule, but should be favored to win the remainder of their currently scheduled games. Games everyone have pointed to are the trip to Kansas State, and of course the big game at Arrowhead. The lone exception to this favorite theory could be if Kansas were to get to November 23rd undefeated - the line may favor kU if that happens, though I wouldn't make them the bet to win that game. An undefeated mark for the Jayhawks would be owed as much to their cupcake out-of-conference and fortunate Big XII skeds as their on-field acumen.

A trip to the Big XII title game would mean two bowl possibilities for Mizzou: a shocking win against (most likely) Oklahoma, and we would be BCS bound, playing in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. Lose? We're headed to Dallas to play in the Cotton Bowl. Would you have taken THAT going into 2007? Of course you would. Dallas is a much nicer city than El Paso (site of last year's Sun Bowl); I know this, I'm from Texas.

The Big XII Championship is in San Antonio. I'd love to watch my boys play just ONE game in my home state this season.

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