How Missouri wildly exceeded expectations

As we near the end of college football's regular season, there are a handful of teams that have becoming surprisingly relevant this year, several of which have a chance to earn shock conference titles.

Missouri: The Tigers slumped to a 5-7 season in 2012, their first year in the SEC. This season, the team put itself on the map with consecutive wins against Georgia and Florida. A loss to South Carolina killed the dream of an undefeated season, but Missouri sits at No. 5 in the BCS standings. A win Saturday against Texas A&M will earn the Tigers the division title and a spot in the SEC title game.

Whether it's Auburn bouncing back from an 0-8 SEC campaign in 2012 or Duke on the verge of a division title, we took a look at some of the programs that have had dream seasons in 2013.

Arizona State: We thought the Sun Devils would be good, but not this good. At 9-2 and 7-1 in the Pac-12, Arizona State has clinched its division and is primed for a rematch with Stanford in the conference title game. The win against Wisconsin may have been controversial, but dismantling in September and beating UCLA on the road last week show that this team is capable of winning the conference.

Auburn: Coming off a disastrous 3-9 season with an 0-8 mark in the SEC, not much was expected of the Tigers of this season. Instead, we're entering the final week of the regular season looking at a 10-1 team with a chance to win the SEC West. Gus Malzahn has done a terrific job in his first year as head coach. Junior college transfer Nick Marshall won the starting quarterback job over the summer and while his passing stats may not be outstanding, his ability to make plays with his legs has been huge.

Duke: Still processing the fact that Duke football is relevant? With a win Saturday, the Blue Devils will win the ACC Coastal and a spot in the ACC title game. After losing its first two conference games, things looked bleak for Duke, but seven wins in a row – including victories over then-ranked Virginia Tech and Miami – have this team at 9-2 and ranked in the BCS standings for the first time ever. The nine wins have already tied the school record.

Minnesota: This team may not be in contention for a conference title like the others on this list, but considering they've been without coach Jerry Kill at times this season, the program's first eight-win season since 2003 is mighty impressive. The Golden Gophers snapped a 16-game losing streak against Nebraska that dated all the way back to 1963 and also claimed a win over Penn State.


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