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With Saturday’s 31-17 loss to Nebraska, talk of a national championship has ended in Columbia.  The Tigers stand 12th in the BCS Standings released on Sunday evening.  While there are scenarios where Mizzou could make its way back into the top two and play for the crystal football, the Tigers need so much help that it’s not realistic to discuss at this point.

But, honestly, that’s the ONLY thing that has been taken off the table for the Tigers with the loss in
Lincoln.

Yes, Missouri now needs help to win the Big XII North.  Even if they win their final four games, Mizzou has to have the Cornhuskers lose again to make the league title game.  That’s possible, with trips to Ames and College Station left on the schedule, but it can’t be seen as likely.

So now, the major question turns to the Tigers’ postseason hopes.  If it wins out, can Missouri make its way into a BCS bowl?  At this point, it’s certainly possible.  The computers love Missouri, ranking them 4th in the country behind only Auburn, Oregon and TCU.  The problem is that Mizzou’s strength of schedule, which currently stands 3rd, is going to take a hit with a four-game stretch of Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas.  The Tigers don’t have a difference-making game left.  If they win out, that’s simply what they are supposed to do.

There are games between TCU and Utah, LSU and Alabama, Alabama and Auburn and Oregon and Arizona which will go a long way toward determining the national title game participants and the at large bids.  That doesn’t even get into the Big XII and SEC title games which will also play major factors.

Right now, there are too many variables left to handicap the Tigers’ chances at landing in the BCS.  But that shouldn’t impact our analysis of the season four weeks from now.

The fact is, most people had
Missouri pegged as an eight or nine win football team coming into this season.  Even ten days ago, few picked Missouri to be able to win any more than ten games.  Right now, it would be at least a moderate disappointment if Missouri didn’t finish the season 11-and-1.

That would be the best regular season in the history of
Missouri football.  For the record, the Tigers have been playing for 120 years.

Yes, the national title is likely off the table.  But Tiger fans were allowed to talk about that possibility for longer than all but about ten teams in America.  It’s a tough pill to swallow when that dream dies, but it should not wreck the season.  Eleven wins is a monumental leap forward for this program.  Frankly, ten is a pretty big leap, but would now be viewed as something less than the Tigers could have accomplished.

Let that sink in.  A ten-win regular season could be viewed as a disappointment.  This for a team that should return 21 of the 22 players on the offensive two-deep.  For a team that has shown improvement by leaps and bounds on defense and brings back eight starters on defense assuming Aldon Smith does not go pro.

Saturday was tough for Tiger fans.  I won’t deny that.  But I will try to minimize it.  A lot is still out there for this Missouri football team.  One loss does not take the season from the penthouse to the outhouse.

Gabe DeArmond is the publisher of PowerMizzou.com, the Missouri site on the Rivals.com network.  You can read his daily coverage of the Tigers online at http://missouri.rivals.com.

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