Preview: Missouri at Texas
by Dave Congrove
Missouri's back is to the wall after losing to Oklahoma State last week. The Longhorns, meanwhile, are in the driver's seat for a date in the BCS title game as it holds the top ranking in the voter poll components of the BCS - the Harris and Coaches' polls.
Missouri's 1997 home win over Texas was its' first in the series since 1916, and the Tigers haven't won in Austin since 1896. Texas leads the series 5-1 since the formation of the Big 12 in 1996.
Mizzou is 0-10 versus no. 1-ranked teams in the AP poll.
While the odds seemed stacked against the Tigers, they are only a 6.5-point underdog in Vegas and a 6.10-point computer underdog.
This game offers another great battle of Big 12 quarterbacks, of which the conference has an overabundance. Missouri's Chase Daniel ranks 5th nationally in passing efficiency, and Texas' Colt McCoy ranks 4th. For the record, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is 2nd, Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson is 3rd, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell is 8th and Kansas State's Josh Freeman is 10th. Then you have Kansas' Todd Reesing at 12th, Baylor's Robert Griffin 14th, and Nebraska's Joe Ganz at 15th.
Daniel will have to forget his performance in the second half against Oklahoma State where he threw three interceptions. Until then, he had thrown just one interception all season.
McCoy, on the other hand, enters this contest with all the confidence in the world. He completed 80% of his passes in the win over Oklahoma and didn't commit a single turnover. The Longhorns have also found the semblance of a running game with 5th-year senior Chris Ogbonnaya who had runs of 62 and 30 yards in the second half to set up touchdowns for the Longhorns. Cody Johnson had 3 TD runs of 2 yards or less.
Texas' ranks 2nd in sacks with 22, of which 7-1/2 belong to defensive end Brian Orakpo's 7-1/2. Those stats run contrary to other rankings that find Texas ranked 40th and Missouri 82nd in total defense. The Longhorns are 109th in pass defense and the Tigers are 113th. In that category, these two teams are keeping company with the likes of North Texas, SMU, UAB and Louisiana Tech. What's worse is that those ugly statistics were achieved by playing fairly weak schedules until this past weekend. Eventually, that could come back to haunt both teams.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said in Monday's press conference that Jeremy Maclin's bruised knee should not cause him to miss any action. Maclin has averaged almost 200 all-purpose yards per game while compiling 600 receiving yards, and 483 return yards.
Texas counters with Jordan Shipley, who showed his explosiveness with a 96-yard kick-off return against Oklahoma.
One of the keys to this game could be whether or not Texas can refocus after such a huge win, or take the lofty ranking for granted. Head coach Mack Brown doesn't seem to think that will be the case. "Since we've already had four teams lose that number one spot, I really think our guys aren't impressed by it right now."
The game will be broadcast nationally by ABC at 8pm eastern time Saturday.