KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Tigers are hoping to win on Saturday and have Michigan State beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game or Duke beat Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. A loss by either the Seminoles or Buckeyes may open the door for Mizzou to play in the BCS National Championship Game.
But first comes the SEC Championship Game and former Missouri signal caller and current Kansas City Chief Chase Daniel can’t wait.
“You know you’re gonna get your toughest game of the year, there’s a reason there’s a conference championship game,” Daniel told reporters.
Daniel is only five years removed from running the Missouri Tigers’ offense, his tenure included two Big 12 North Championships with two appearances in the Big 12 Championship game. Like many fellow Tigers, Daniel watched the surprise 2013 team take down Texas A&M last Saturday en route to an SEC East Division Championship in just its second year in the conference.
“We sort of laid the groundwork with these guys and this senior class, from everyone I’ve met, from everyone I’ve heard from, is just a group of special guys. I think their leadership has shown throughout the season,” Daniel said.
That leadership came from a senior class much like the one Daniel played with. Before the win over the Johnny Football and the Aggies, first came an emotional pregame ceremony for the Tiger's seniors.
“It’s tough, I remember my Senior Day, I was very emotional for the first quarter. Tried not to get me, but it definitely shows in how you play for a little bit. I thought they did a good job getting rid of that a lot faster than some teams in the past have done,” Daniel said.
After a dismal 5-7 showing in 2012 that only included two SEC wins, the 2013 Tigers set out on a mission to gain respect from their new conference neighbors. If it’s respect the Tigers wanted, they’ve got it now in the eyes of most people.
“When I took the job here, at the press conference, I said I want University of Missouri football to build a program that’s respected in the league they’re playing in. At the time in the Big 12, (it would) be the SEC for us now, and nationally; that’s really, really important to me,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said during his weekly press conference.
While many marvel at the quick turnaround, the Tigers aren’t content just to make it to the championship game, a sentiment that Daniel echoed.
“No, absolutely not. That’s not what Coach Pinkel and them think at the program. That’s not what the fans think, that’s not what alumni think, that’s not what former football players think,” Daniel said. “I think we’re sort of past that thing where we just need to get to the championship game to be successful. We’ve been competitive in the SEC in our second year and I think we can compete and win the SEC Championship Game.”