Columbia, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - So whose comeback season was better?
We'll find out the answer to that question next Saturday.
Henry Josey scampered for a go-ahead 57-yard TD run with 3:34 remaining and No. 5 Missouri clinched the SEC East with a 28-21 triumph over No. 19 Texas A&M.
The Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC) advance to the conference championship next Saturday to take on Auburn in a matchup of lightly-regarded schools prior to the season. Missouri didn't make a bowl game for the first time in nine seasons a year ago, while fourth-ranked Auburn has already improved last year's win total by eight under new head coach Gus Malzahn.
"Our guys got back here in January and what they did is they said, 'well this is what we have to do.' January, February, March, methodically going through their schedule, the preparation. I told you before, these guys play, they flat out play. When they go out there everybody is going to play hard," Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said of the team's improvement this season.
Auburn stunned top-ranked and two-time defending champion Alabama to take the SEC West earlier Saturday, 34-28, when Chris Davis fielded a missed field goal a yard short of the back of the end zone and used a convoy of blockers en route to a miraculous touchdown on the game's final play.
James Franklin was 18-of-28 for 233 yards and two touchdowns for Missouri, which beat its fourth-ranked opponent and reached 11 wins for the third time in school history, twice under head coach Pinkel. Pinkel tied Don Faurot for the most wins in Missouri history with 103.
Josey, who missed the season last year due to a serious knee injury, ran for 96 yards on 13 totes, while Dorial Green-Beckham caught seven passes for 93 yards and a score in the triumph.
Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines held Texas A&M star receiver Mike Evans to just four catches for eight yards.
Johnny Manziel was just 24-of-35 for 195 yards and a touchdown and tallied 21 yards rushing on 11 carries for the Aggies (8-4, 4-4), who have dropped consecutive games for the first time in the Kevin Sumlin era. Sumlin agreed to a new six-year deal earlier in the day that will keep him in College Station through 2019.
"I thought both teams played really hard. It got down to a play here or there, you know that's going to happen sometimes. Missouri is a fine football team, and you see why," Sumlin said.
Texas A&M fell to 0-4 against ranked foes this season.
The Tigers trailed 14-7 at the break, but outscored the Aggies 21-7 in the second half.
Missouri recorded touchdowns on each of its first two possessions of the second half.
L'Damian Washington hauled in a 35-yard post pattern down to the Texas A&M 2 before Marcus Murphy plunged in for the score a play later.
Following an Aggies punt, the Tigers capped an 8-play, 57-yard march when Washington brought in Franklin's fade pass in the back right corner of the end zone to make it 21-14 midway through the frame.
Trey Williams broke off runs of 18 and 25 yards before Ben Malena scampered in for a 7-yard TD run to conclude a brisk 9-play, 98-yard sequence to knot the tilt at 21-21 early in the fourth.
Both teams then went three-and-out before both squads were again forced to punt.
Missouri had possession at its own 34-yard line with 4:47 left before Josey burst through the middle of the field for the go-ahead score three plays into the trek.
Instead of going for a 4th-and-13 at its own 24 with 2:13 left and two timeouts, Texas A&M elected to punt.
Franklin then flipped a pass in the left flat for Eric Waters, who raced 16 yards for a critical first down. Russell Hansbrough then moved the chains again a play later with an 11-yard run to seal the outcome.
Earlier, Tra Carson's 29-yard TD run down the left sideline staked the Aggies a 7-0 lead midway through the opening frame before the Tigers tied it midway through the second when Green-Beckham caught a 38-yard TD pass from Franklin.
Texas A&M answered with a score 1:10 later as Manziel hooked up with Derel Walker for a 32-yard score to put the Aggies in front, 14-7, with 4:06 left in the half.
The Tigers moved to 12-44 under Pinkel when trailing at the half ... Franklin added 89 yards rushing on 18 carries ... Missouri outgained Texas A&M, 463-379.