HOOVER, Ala. -- Missouri's Matty Mauk hopes you don't think his Tigers will do much this season.
He figures that was the case the past two years, but Missouri went a combined 23-5 and won two SEC Eastern Division championships.
"We are back-to-back SEC (East) champs and we are coming for the third," Mauk said Wednesday at SEC media days. "We are going to be ready. It's not even a respect thing anymore. We are going to be disrespected; we are going to be on the bottom of everybody's polls and it's something we can't control."
Missouri was picked sixth in the East two years ago at SEC Media Days and fourth last year. The Tigers eventually lost to Auburn in the 2013 title game and Alabama in 2014.
"I think it probably bothers my players a little bit more than me," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "I don't really talk about that. I don't really go there. I'll tell you how you get respect is graduating your players, developing our students into young men, and winning football games. That's how you get respect."
If Missouri is to get to a third straight SEC title game, it likely will be behind Mauk, a junior who is 14-4 as a starting quarterback in college. He threw 25 touchdown passes last year but finished second in the league with 13 interceptions. He was No. 11 in the SEC passer ratings.
Missouri lost all three of the starting receivers. Starting running back Marcus Murphy is gone, too, although Russell Hansborough rushed for 1,084 yards, which ranked sixth in the SEC.
"(Mauk) is remarkably good under pressure," Pinkel said. "We need more consistency from him. He knows that. This will be his second year starting this year. But there's also the receiving corps, the offensive line, running backs, everybody else that has their role in being successful."
Including Mauk, Missouri has six starters back on offense. Six are back on defense, too. The Tigers list 38 returnees who played enough to letter.
Even so, Missouri isn't expecting many to pay attention to that.
"You know, we were sitting around watching this the other day at our facilities, we had it on while we were eating lunch and heading our locker room and I think it came out on ESPN that Cinderella team was Missouri," said Missouri center Evan Boehm, a senior who has started 40 games. "We were kind of like, Cinderella team?
"I mean, we went 12-2 and 11-3 and yeah, we had a 5-7 season (in 2012), so we kind of got confused why we were the Cinderella team. You know what? Coach Pinkel and his coaching staff do a great job with keeping us level and ignoring what they're trying to say and letting us go out there and play Mizzou football, play the kind of football we play each year."