2014 Arch Awards: Missouri Tigers Winning SEC East was Year’s Best Storyline


Throughout the month of December, we’ve asked our readers to help us determine the best athletes and moments in St. Louis sports during 2014 with our “Arch Awards”. One of our categories was the Best St. Louis Sports Storyline, with the nominees being the Missouri Tigers football team winning the SEC East in what was expected to be a rebuilding season, the St. Louis Cardinals going to their fourth straight National League Championship Series, the St. Louis Rams upsetting the previously-dominant Denver Broncos at the Edward Jones Dome, Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek making the National League All-Star team after arriving in spring training as a non-roster invitee, and the Saint Louis University Billikens basketball team coming back and defeating NC State in overtime during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Though the Cardinals’ dynastic success was a very popular selection in this category, the honor ultimately goes to Mizzou football winning the SEC East. Though in theory the Tigers should have been considered a favorite to win the division again following their win in 2013, there was plenty of adversity dealt their way which easily could have caused them to end up near the basement of the division once again.

There was already going to have to be somewhat of a restock in talent considering that many of the team’s best players, including defensive ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, cornerback E.J. Gaines, left tackle Justin Britt, running back Henry Josey, and wide receivers L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas, moved on to the NFL. That project was made all the more difficult when the Tigers’ best player, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was kicked off the team in early April following allegations of domestic violence.

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With “DGB” gone, there seemed to be a prevailing thought that the Tigers would no longer be able to hang with traditional SEC powers like Florida and South Carolina. But despite the fact that Mizzou, traditionally a pass-heavy program, lost their top three receivers (plus tight end Eric Waters), they trudged on and found a way to make things work. Senior wide receiver Bud Sasser, who previously had been a part-time contributor, accumulating 608 yards and two touchdowns over his previous three years in the program, came out of the woodwork to collect an impressive 70 catches for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running backs Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, who had previously been role players with Josey in the picture, emerged as leaders of the rushing attack and both put up career highs in rushing yards.

The offense still struggled at times, most notably when they were shut out 34-0 on their home turf by Georgia on October 11. For the most part, though, Mizzou prevailed, and they picked up momentous victories at Florida, South Carolina, and Texas A&M.

While the Mizzou offense wasn’t always extremely consistent, the defense was dominant and led the SEC in sacks with 42. Defensive ends Shane Ray (14 sacks) and Markus Golden (8 sacks) were extremely valuable, and linebackers Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer were both among the conference’s top five tacklers.

While Mizzou lost in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama, they were still awarded a spot in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (previously the Capital One Bowl), which will be arguably the Tigers’ most prestigious bowl berth in recent memory.

Congratulations once again to the Missouri Tigers for winning the 2014 Arch Award for Best Storyline! Check back with us tomorrow to see who wins the award for MVP of St. Louis sports. Until then, help us vote for the winner in that category by clicking the link below!

Next: Who was the MVP of St. Louis Sports During 2014?