Why do the Tigers schedule the MAC conference?
The MAC, or Mid-Atlantic Conference, is by any reasonable measure a major football conference stocked with quality teams, squads that semi-regularly best teams from more prestigious conferences. But when a MAC team shows up on the Tigers' schedule, you will be mocked. Fans of other major programs mock you. Non-fans who didn't go to college mock you. Ryan Seacrest mocks you.
Since the MAC isn't officially a BCS league, whenever a team from the MAC plays a team from the BCS, they're frothing mad. Watching a MAC team play a BCS team is like watching a small but rabid dog take on a larger breed. They have no fear, and, anxious to extract a pound of flesh from the bigger school's mascot, they often do. When Northwestern enjoyed their incredible Rose Bowl season of 1995, they ground Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State into mincemeat. Who beat them? Miami of Ohio, of the MAC.
MAC teams are like the Clintons. They won't go away, and they ruin everyone else's good time.
Bowling Green has a history of beating Mizzou. They did it in Gary Pinkel's Tiger coaching debut, and then did it again his second season. Urban Meyer, a jagweed of the first order and coach of the national champion Florida Gators, was Bowling Green's coach back then. This year, Bowling Green has a slew of seniors, including their quarterback. I've never heard of any of them, because they're in the MAC, which gets no media love. But I knew they'd be well coached and straining their Falcon feathers for a chance to force Pinkel to make another Stinkel face.
As I settled into the Spread bar for the first time this season, my stomach turned, and from more than the sight of the food. The Dude and Mrs. Dude joined me, leaving their kids with the nanny (or leaving them in the middle of the floor with a pizza. I didn't ask.) The Mizzou faithful turned out in force, roughly 50/50 dude-to-girl split. The Dude tried not to stare, but breasts are his kryptonite. When two women who were squeezed a mite tightly into their black-and-gold attire walked past, Mrs. Dude jumped on the opportunity. With a mean little smile, she extrapolated that all Missouri women should cut down on the nachos. This had the same effect on the Dude that every wife has on every husband when the missus makes a snide remark in a room full of hot women: the Dude bit his lip and stared at the floor. Since Mrs. Dude had insulted my school and I am Mr. Make-it-Worse, whenever a vixen with an impressive rack would walk by the remainder of the game, I'd volunteer, "Look at that one. She's enormous!" At the University of Missouri, we defend our womenfolk.
Bowling Green kicked Missouri in the nuts. It was 10-0 after the first quarter and 13-6 at the half. Blaine Gabbert, the greatest Mizzou quarterback ever after starting one game, shit the bed like a sophomore. My national championship dreams, so bright a week ago, faded like a "Jonathan Edwards: Moral Leadership for America" poster.
The Falcons stretched their lead to 20-6 in the third quarter, and then something strange and wonderful happened: the Tigers didn't panic. They began to use their size advantage to grind out yardage on the ground, a strategy never considered under their previous offensive coordinator when behind. As Derrick Washington and freshman Kendial Lawrence gobbled up first downs, the BG defense began cheating up toward the line of scrimmage to stop them. When they did, Gabbert bured them for touchdown throws of 27 and 33 yards. Up in the booth, new OC David Yost looked as much like Yoda as a guy with an Owen Wilson haircut can.
The Tigers rolled up 109 yards on the ground in the second half on 24 carries. The final score was 27-20, and if the game kept going it would have gotten a lot more lopsided than that.
After the game, so-called friends who didn't attend college mocked the hard-fought, character-building Tiger victory. Mizzou had broken into the top 25 the week before with a win over the inferior Illini, but beating a better Bowling Green team saw the Tigers drop out of the polls. Had Mizzou bested a far worse BCS team as we had the week prior, there would have been no snide Mrs. Dude-like "you beat a fat girl" remarks.
Athletic directors always worry about scheduling teams from major conferences, but the fact is, there are plenty of programs from major conferences that are perennial doormats. Here's a list of safe-bet BCS teams worth scheduling for the non-conference portion of the season:
- NC State
- Mississippi State
- Washington State
I can hear Missouri AD Mike Alden now--"But, those teams might beat us!" Yeah, they might. But so can any good MAC school. Eventually one of them will bite the Tigers in the ass fur, and it'll be twice as hard a loss to bounce back from.