Once again the Missouri Tigers looked like a mid-level Mid-American Conference team, this time while outlasting North Texas 48-35 Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers let a second-tier Conference USA team roll into Boone County and outgain them 493-474 in their Homecoming game. Missouri had control of the contest throughout, true, but they allowed the Mean Green to rally with long drive after long drive in the second half.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the SEC . . .
- Jimbo Fisher delivered his breakthrough victory at Texas A&M with a stunning 41-38 upset of No. 1 Alabama, snapping the Crimson Tide’s 100-game winning streak over unranked teams. The Aggies come to Columbia next to play the Tigers, so Eli Drinkwitz and Co. can only hope they suffer a letdown coming off that epic triumph. Texas A&M opened as nine-point favorites – a number that pessimistic Mizzou fans may see as an investment opportunity.
- Kentucky, Missouri’s peer team in the league, throttled LSU 42-21 Saturday night in an electric atmosphere in Lexington. That could spell the end of LSU coach Ed Orgeron in this cutthroat conference. For those watching the SEC Network Saturday, the shift from the lackluster scene in Columbia to the roaring crowd and high-level football at Kentucky was jarring.
- Arkansas, MU’s SEC West rival, fell 52-51 in a thriller at Ole Miss. That game was absolutely bonkers. Despite failing on two-point bid at the end of the game. the intrepid Razorbacks (4-2) still have a shot at a nice bowl assignment thanks to earlier victories over Texas and Texas A&M. Their game against Mizzou to close the regular season will mean something.
- Georgia handled Auburn 34-10 and passed Alabama to for the No. 1 spot the national rankings. The Bulldogs will host Missouri Nov. 6 as they continue their push toward the College Football Playoff.
- Florida stepped on Vanderbilt 42-0, reminding Missouri what its Nov. 20 game against the Gators could look like.
Missouri has games at Vanderbilt (2-4) and at home against South Carolina (3-3) left on their schedule, so they will have a chance to earn conference victories.
How can the Tigers prepare for their daunting second half of their schedule? By taking the following advice from Fisher, whose Aggies shook off their losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State:
“Guys, there isn't no secret to this. Ain't no magical formula. They got to believe in what you tell them. They got to eliminate -- I don't mean this -- all the social media, all the media, good, bad, indifferent. Knock it out. Don't read it. I wouldn't even read it. I don't unless there's something there.
“You've got to line up and play each and every week. You write your own history. You believe in your own self. And there's going to be trials and tribulations and you're defined by how you respond to adversity.
“Now you are defined by how you respond to having success. And that's what they got to understand. There's a growing curve in there. They believed in what we were telling them. And our coaches did a heck of a job with our players. Our assistant coaches and our players did a great job of believing and the leadership of the team did.”
THE GRIDIRON CHRONICLES
Here is what folks are writing about the weekend of college football:
Shehan Jeyarajah, CBSSports.com: “The insanity that is this college football season continued into Week 6 on Saturday as six AP Top 25 teams fell, including two programs ranked in the top five. Texas A&M landed one of the biggest upsets in recent memory over No. 1 Alabama, becoming the first unranked team to beat No. 1 since 2008. In the same state, No. 6 Oklahoma survived a 21-point deficit against rival No. 21 Texas behind a quarterback change that's further fueled a main talking point in Norman. The wave of losses shook up the College Football Playoff picture again and will lead to a new wave of contenders stepping into the mix. There are only 13 undefeated teams remaining in college football, including eight in the Power Five. Halfway through the season, surviving and advancing is more than enough.”
Pete Thamel, Yahoo! Sports: “Coach O’s LSU tenure has nosedived past the point of potential recovery, Cincinnati has further positioned itself for the College Football Playoff and No. 10 BYU bowed out of the College Football Playoff race. The Big Ten’s banner season could feature five teams ranked in the top 10 for the first time in the league’s history. The quarterback who began the year as a Heisman favorite, OU’s Spencer Rattler, will likely lose his job to transcendent freshman Caleb Williams. Heck, USC lost its third consecutive Pac-12 game at home and no one even noticed.”
David M. Hale, ESPN.com: “Week 6 gave us Oklahoma's remarkable comeback against Texas, Iowa's defense punishing Penn State’s overwhelmed backup quarterback, Michigan and Notre Dame surviving on late field goals and a showdown between the two worst teams in the country, and yet none of it could have prepared us for what happened in College Station. It was just a week ago, after all, that Alabama appeared unbeatable. The Tide dominated Ole Miss, Saban dumped popcorn on yet another former assistant, and the path to a college football championship appeared to converge in the SEC title game, with Alabama and Georgia clearly the dominant forces. And now, we're living in a world where Jim Harbaugh is undefeated, Florida State has a winning streak and UMass has won a game more recently than Nick Saban. What a time to be alive.”
Mike Farrell, Rivals.com: “Jimbo Fisher became the first of Nick Saban's former assistants to beat him when Texas A&M took down top-ranked Alabama. It looked like Alabama had all the momentum in the second half, and they took the lead with five minutes to go when no one on the Aggies' defense decided to cover Jameson Williams on the goal line. But Zach Calzada rallied and brought Texas A&M down the field on consecutive scoring drives, bringing Alabama's 19-game winning streak to an end. And Fisher makes Saban 24-1 against his former assistant coaches.”
Pete Fituak, College Football News: “It’s hardly over for Alabama. There’s a whole lot of stuff to work out – it keeps getting lost in the narrative that the team lost an incredible amount of NFL talent – but this game doesn’t really matter as long as the Tide can win out. Of course there’s no safety net now, and Georgia is looming in the SEC Championship even if there’s a clean run through the rest of the regular season, but we’ve seen this before. The 2015 team lost to Ole Miss and went on to win the national title. The 2014 team lost to the Rebels, too, and got to the College Football Playoff. The 2011 and 2012 teams were able to win the national championship despite a misfire, too. Texas A&M now has a shot to go on a run. It has a trip to Missouri next, then home games against South Carolina and Auburn before a tough SEC finishing kick with road games at Ole Miss and LSU. But for now, A&M pulled up out of a nosedive of a season with a fantastic win.”
Heather Dinich, ESPN.com: “While Georgia has established itself as a clear No. 1, and it's probably at least safe to assume the Big Ten champion will finish in the top four this year, the other two spots could be quite a debate if there is only one deserving SEC team this fall. Oklahoma is still undefeated following its thrilling come-from-behind win against Texas. With BYU losing at home to unranked Boise State, Cincinnati is clearly the best remaining team from outside a Power 5 conference. Michigan and Michigan State are still undefeated but have to play each other, and Ohio State is looking like one of the best one-loss teams in the country. Which is why Oregon's win over Ohio State is still one of the best in the country, so don't eliminate the struggling Ducks just yet. This is why the selection committee doesn't even begin to try and sort all this out until Nov. 2. There's still plenty of time and opportunities for Alabama and other one-loss teams to impress the committee. Alabama has not lost consecutive games since the end of the 2013 season. The last time Alabama lost consecutive regular-season games was in 2007, Nick Saban's first season. The Tide travel to unranked Mississippi State on Saturday, and should be favored to win, but they end the season with tricky games against Arkansas and at rival Auburn.”
Brandon Marcello, 247 Sports: “The Red River Rivalry sure was exciting. Texas grabbed a big lead and Oklahoma, with Spencer Rattler on the bench, scored 25 unanswered points to rally for a 55-48 win. Inside the Cotton Bowl, both fan bases chanted “S-E-C” on College GameDay as they took center stage in the heart of Big 12 country. It was fun. It was electric. The game was a classic. The result should also serve as a reality check. Neither program is ready to contend in the SEC. Remember Texas falling flat in Fayetteville as the Razorbacks pummeled the Longhorns into the turf for a 40-21 win? Do you not remember Oklahoma winning five games by the skin of their teeth? The reality is OU and UT would be fighting for fourth or fifth place in the SEC West this season, with Texas A&M likely trumping both for the No. 4 spot. Yes, the Red River Rivalry was a classic, but the glaring weaknesses on both rosters were also on full display Saturday at the Texas State Fair. That wasn’t burnt popcorn or corndogs you smelled in the air. The Longhorns’ defense is nowhere near ready, and Oklahoma’s quarterback situation is fluid. Their rosters are also nowhere near deep enough to play week to week in the rigorous SEC. A chant is cute and while it signals to the world you’re looking forward to dancing with big boys, the reality is you’re not ready for that life. Not yet, at least. Give it a few more years.”
Dan Wolken, USA Today: “In his Red River Rivalry debut, Steve Sarkisian experienced everything that makes Texas-Oklahoma one of the must-watch games every single year. The 50-50 crowd at the historic Cotton Bowl. The crazy momentum shifts. The white-knuckle finishes. But when you blow a 28-7 lead and your offense kind of falls apart in the second half in *that* game, the wrath of the Texas fan base will be unsparing. In a 55-48 loss, the Longhorns pretty much experienced a full-scale collapse as Oklahoma’s Kennedy Brooks ran in a 33-yard touchdown to win with three seconds. But before that, Texas went three-and-out on three of its first four possessions of the second half, couldn’t get its defense off the field on numerous third-and-long opportunities and then fumbled a kickoff return after Oklahoma tied the game at 41-41 with 7:25 left. It’s always tough to lose a rivalry game, but the way Texas let that one go could linger for awhile.”
“We had some unfortunate injuries. People don't care, and I don't care. That ain't an excuse. But at the same time, that's reality. And you have to understand there's a difference of what your results are and what the reality of why those results are there, and then you coach through them. We're doing that, and we're still in the process. Just because we won this game don't fix everything. We've got to learn -- prepare and learn to grow from this and understand what we've got to do next week.”
Fisher, on his team’s struggles this season.