Missouri Wins the SEC East
COLUMBIA - Missouri won the SEC East and will play Auburn in the SEC Championship Game next week after beating Texas A&M 28-21 in front of a sold-out crowd on senior night.
"We got a lot of respect back," Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said. "And that respect is really important for me."
Henry Josey scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:34 to play, which was fitting for his comeback season.
"What a great play and what a great kid. I'm real happy for him," Pinkel said.
Missouri's 18 seniors were honored before kickoff. Pinkel was noticeably emotional during the ceremony. Earlier this week, he said he expected to be an "emotional wreck."
"It totally sheds any feeling that this is a business," senior guard Max Copeland said. "It truly is a family. When your head dude has tears in his eyes when a goofy looking walk-on with weird hair walks up and gives him a hug, it makes you think wow, this truly is a family."
Seniors James Franklin threw two touchdowns, L'Damian Washington led the team with 97 receiving yards and E.J. Gaines held Mike Evans to just eight yards receiving.
Missouri's defense kept Johnny Manziel to just 195 yards passing and 21 yards rushing, his lowest total this season (aside from the season opener against Rice in which Manziel didn't play the first half due to a suspension). Linebacker Kentrell Brothers said the team learned a lot from what LSU did to stop Manziel.
"We were relentless in our effort. Our defensive line wanted him so bad. They wanted a piece of him every chance they got," Pinkel said.
"And with great respect for what a great a player he is. When you're on defense, you're driven. You're at a whole different notch because you know who you're going against."
After the win, the crowd rushed the field to celebrate Missouri winning the division in just its second season in the conference.
"It was cool," quarterback James Franklin said. "I got hit harder by the fans than I did during the game."
Gary Pinkel also tied Don Faurot as the winningest coach in school history but Pinkel said this win was about his players winning a championship.
Missouri will now play Auburn in Atlanta next Saturday in a battle of teams that won a combined two conference games last season.
"I know they're going to bring it. It's going to be two Tigers and only one's going to come out on top," Franklin said.