Can Missouri Compete In The SEC?

October 12, 2011
Gap in competition level between Big 12 and SEC can be overcome

The SEC has definitely been the best football conference since 2006, winning 5 straight BCS titles. Even more impressive is that 5 different SEC schools have won a BCS title – Tennessee in 1998, LSU in 2003/2007, Florida in 2006/2008, Alabama in 2009, Auburn in 2010. But as dominant as the SEC has been, the Big 12 has not been far behind. Out of the 26 teams that have played in a BCS title game, 7 were from the SEC, and 7 were from the Big 12. Both conferences typically have around half the league ranked any given week. And statistically, they have been about equal as well, with the SEC typically ranking #1 and Big 12 ranking #2.

Now we'll digress and ask the question: "If the SEC is better than the Big 12, even if it's only by a little, doesn't that mean Missouri would ultimately be less competitive in the SEC?" It's not that simple. Missouri's football program would become BETTER in the SEC as a result of increased revenue, exposure, and southeast recruiting. "But wouldn't Texas recruiting suffer? And how would Missouri recruit the southeast?" With Texas A&M moving to the SEC, and with the SEC being a more desireable conferece to play in than the Big 12, Missouri should have no trouble continuing to recruit from Texas. In fact, you could argue that western SEC schools will be able to recruit Texas more effectively than northern Big 12 schools. For Missouri, the southeast will open up the same way Texas did when UT/A&M/TT/BU joined the Big 8. It's also likely that Missouri will have an easier time locking down in-state talent.

All these benefits – recruiting, exposure, revenue – would close whatever gap their is between the competition levels of the Big 12 and SEC. Missouri would eventually be able to compete at a higher level.

Missouri has performed well against the SEC historically

Missouri is 16-6 vs the SEC since 1960:

Date Opponent (record) Result Site
1/1/2008 Arkansas (8-5) W 38-7 @ Dallas, TX (Cotton Bowl)
9/8/2007 Mississippi (3-9) W 38-25  
9/9/2006 Mississippi (4-8) W 34-7  
12/30/2005 South Carolina (7-5) W 38-31 @ Shreveport, LA (Independence Bowl)
12/31/2003 Arkansas (9-4) L 14-27 @ Shreveport, LA (Independence Bowl)
9/22/1984 MS State (4-7) W 47-30  
10/3/1981 MS State (8-4) W 14-3 @ Jackson, MS
12/29/1979 South Carolina (8-4) W 24-14 @ Birmingham, AL (Hall of Fame Classic)
9/22/1979 Mississippi (4-7) W 33-7 @ Jackson, MS
12/23/1978 LSU (8-4) W 20-15 @ Memphis, TN (Liberty Bowl)
9/23/1978 Mississippi (5-6) W 45-14  
9/16/1978 Alabama (11-1) L 20-38  
9/8/1975 Alabama (11-1) W 20-7 @ Birmingham, AL
9/14/1974 Mississippi (3-8) L 0-10 @ Jackson, MS
12/29/1973 Auburn (6-6) W 34-17 @ El Paso, TX (Sun Bowl)
9/15/1973 Mississippi (6-5) W 17-0  
12/28/1968 Alabama (8-3) W 35-10 @ Jacksonville, FL (Gator Bowl)
9/21/1968 Kentucky (3-7) L 6-12  
1/1/1966 Florida (7-4) W 20-18 @ New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl)
9/18/1965 Kentucky (6-4) L 0-7  
9/28/1963 Arkansas (5-5) W 7-6 @ Little Rock, AR
1/1/1960 Georgia (10-1) L 0-14 @ Miami, FL (Orange Bowl)

What stands out to us:

  • Missouri is 10-1 vs SEC in the last 11 games.
  • Missouri is 5-1 vs SEC schools that have won a BCS national championship.
  • Missouri played every SEC school during this time at least once, except for Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
  • Missouri did not play any SEC teams between 1985 and 2002. This is primarily due to a lack of bowl game appearances and unwillingness to schedule tougher competition during those years. (Basically, from the mid-80's to the late-90's, Missouri had an administration that refused to invest any money in the football program. When the admin eventually changed, money was invested back into the football program and it was rebuilt by the early 2000's.)
  • Missouri is 16-6 (73%) vs the SEC since 1960. The same Missouri teams had an overall record of 63-47 (57%) vs the Big 8/12. In other words, over the 15 seasons in which Missouri played at least one SEC team, it had a higher winning percentage against the SEC than it did against the Big 8/12. This indicates Missouri may have actually had MORE success, and won MORE games, if it had been playing in the SEC during these years.