Missouri found itself even with lowly Tennessee after one half and for a moment it seemed like the Tigers could lose their SEC East chances.
But then quarterback Maty Mauk found a way to get the offense roaring again, and after drumming the Volunteers 29-21 in Knoxville Saturday, the Tigers are one game away from playing in the Southeastern Conference title game in December.
Mauk threw for 230 yards and tossed two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Meanwhile senior Marcus Murphy ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns of his own to keep Missouri in championship contention.
Tennessee played another competitive game and came within eight points with less than two minutes left. For a moment it looked like the Volunteers had recovered an onside kick attempt, but an offsides penalty was called and they couldn't recover on their second try.
Still, this game served as both an important game for Missouri and a wait-and-see matchup for the 10th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, who need the Tigers to lose to take their spot in the championship game.
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Georgia decimated Missouri earlier in the season to the tune of a 34-0 score. The Bulldogs had an identical 9-2 record, but because they had one more conference loss, they trail the Tigers for the SEC East title.
Now Missouri has only one more thing left to do: Beat Arkansas at home on Nov. 28.
That might be easier said than done.
Arkansas was not a good team at the beginning of the year, losing by more than three scores to Auburn.
But the Razorbacks actually proved to be very competitive over time. After earning a 3-1 record early in the season, Arkansas lost three straight games — by a total of only 21 points.
They lost by one point to Alabama and by an overtime touchdown against Texas A&M, while dropping a 45-32 decision to Georgia.
The last two weeks have shown Arkansas true potential as a spoiler. The Razorbacks defeated then-No. 17 LSU by a 17-0 score, then crushed No. 8 Ole Miss this week 30-0.
All that is to say that Arkansas is no cakewalk, and Missouri will have to be prepared if it wants to win the SEC East.
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