Will Missouri kill the SEC’s playoff hopes?

One of the most intriguing matchups coming up on championship weekend in college football is the one between Alabama and Missouri for the SEC title.

On paper, this looks like a walk in the park for the Crimson Tide. The oddsmakers agree, establishing Bama as a 14.5 point favorite over the Tigers.

But while there is a significant talent disparity between these two teams — the Tide is loaded with NFL prospects — keep in mind that there are a few factors working in Mizzou’s favor.

Namely, there is the fact that the Tigers are working under the radar, with very little expectations. They were in the SEC title game last year, so they have some understanding of the stage on which they’ll play. Don’t expect Missouri to be wide-eyed and scared in this one. All the pressure is on the other side of the field.

Second, if there’s one tendency that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has in games like this, it is to go conservative. We are likely to see the Tide play things close to the vest and try to ‘out-talent’ the Tigers. This should create an opening for Mizzou to out-scheme Bama.

The Tide struggled at times this year on offense, producing 10 points against Mississippi, 14 against Arkansas and 13 against LSU in regulation. If Kiffin decides to open things up, this game shouldn’t be a contest and Alabama will roll. But if he puckers, look for this one to go down to the wire.

If Missouri pulls off the upset, we’re likely to see the SEC left out of the four-team playoff. Who would’ve thought THAT would happen just a few weeks ago?

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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