By Tim Kaiser, Editor-in-Chief
After Week 6 of the college football season, the Missouri Tigers are 5-0 (1-0 SEC) and climbed to No. 25 in the AP poll. However, questions remain, as they have not played a ranked opponent to date. Senior quarterback James Franklin has helped make the Tigers the eighth-ranked offense in the nation, but he will be tested in the next three weeks when they face No. 7 Georgia, No. 17 Florida, and No. 14 South Carolina.
The 5-0 record makes Mizzou the only team in the SEC East that remains unbeaten and the only team other than Alabama still unbeaten in the SEC as a whole. The Tigers are currently in third in the East, chasing Georgia (4-1, 3-0) and Florida (4-1, 3-0).
Unfortunately, the early season success might be building up the Mizzou fan base for a fall. Only two of the first five games were against schools from BCS conferences, Indiana and Vanderbilt. The record also includes the season opener against FCS school, Murray State. The record of the five opponents Mizzou has played thus far is 15-13, while the seven opponents still on the schedule are 23-13.
Franklin has been the catalyst for the Tigers high-powered offense this season. Mizzou is averaging 46.6 points of game with 285 passing yards and 258.8 rushing yards. Franklin is top five in the SEC in passing completions (114), attempts (168), yards (1407), and touchdowns (13). He has added 278 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.
To compliment Franklin, Mizzou has used a slew of running backs. Sophomore Russell Hansbrough and juniors Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy have combined for 979 yards and 13 touchdowns. All three running backs average over 5 yards per carry with Murphy and Hansbrough averaging approximately 8 yards per rush.
Head Coach Gary Pinkel’s fast-paced spread offense has produced five receivers with double-digit receptions on the year. The two leading receivers are senior L’Damian Washington and sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham with over 340 yards each and 5 and 4 touchdowns, respectively.
Mizzou opened their 2013 SEC schedule with a 51-28 win over Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3) in Nashville. The Tigers started quickly and did not let up in the second half. Mizzou jumped out to a 30-7 lead and held Vanderbilt to 97 yards of total offense at halftime. Franklin collected 278 yards through the air and threw for 4 touchdowns, while rushing for another 63 yards. Josey added another 2 touchdowns, while he and Murphy each had 69 rushing yards. Washington hauled in just 3 passes, but racked up 86 yards and 2 touchdowns. The win gave Mizzou their first winning record in the SEC since they joined the conference
The Tigers have already matched their win total from last season and are looking to contend for an SEC title in just their second year in the league. Even with the hot start, the question remains: Can Mizzou stand tall with the perennial giants of the nation’s best conference?