It’s time to lay your cards down

Tomorrow night is the biggest game in Missouri football history. Let’s start by going over the top. The Missouri Tigers travel to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the fifth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

Before I get into the half-full feelings of optimism, let me start with some facts:

The gold and black have not defeated Oklahoma in Norman since 1966.

Gary Pinkel has never defeated a top-25 team not named Nebraska.

Tony Temple, Missouri’s leading rusher, will not travel with the team this weekend due to an ankle injury.

The leading rusher (RB) after Temple is Jimmy Jackson. He has 62 yards in five games.

Missouri never, ever wins these games.

I’m an alum who semi-watched the Tigers win 12 games in four years. I’ve only seen two games this year. The opener against Illinois nearly turned into a disaster. Now that looks like a solid win. The offense did struggle, as defense and special teams scored 14 of the 41 points that day. Oklahoma has a much, much better defense, although conference play has blunted the juggernaut a bit.

This is the most talented Missouri team, perhaps ever. Chase Daniel may not become a Drew Brees clone (circa 2006) in the NFL. He’s a ridiculous college talent nevertheless. The defense has been poor so far, but they stood up to the toughest talent last week in the Cornhuskers. They’re going to give up 24, maybe 30 points. The offense is going to have to score 31 to win. They can. Without Temple, the Tigers may hand the ball off to a running back no more than five times. I can live with that. They’ve played lightening-quick freshman Jeremy Maclin at RB a few plays this year. Heck, tight end Martin Rucker’s taken eight snaps from center. With Maclin, Danario Alexander, William Franklin, Martin Rucker, and Chase Coffman on the field at the same time, Oklahoma has to pick their poison. The Sooners blasted Missouri for many reasons. The primary one was that Missouri wasn’t ready. If they’re not ready for this one, they never will be.

I know folks are going to underplay the Big 12 because only Missouri and Kansas remain undefeated (and probably not for long in both cases). Missouri’s schedule offers no freebies, other than maybe Iowa State, for the rest of the year. Texas Tech, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas A&M all will play in bowl games. So, even if Missouri pulls off the monumental upset, it’s not a cakewalk after this. I still would be very happy with a 10-2 finish, even though this team has the talent to go 12-0.

I’m also suffering from the endorphin rush associated with having a star player on my favorite team who’s also helping my fantasy team. Chase Daniel is on my college fantasy roster. In five games he has 18 touchdowns and exactly 1900 yards from scrimmage. It’s no coincidence that my Missouri Tigers of the KCFA3 lost its only game this year when the Tigers were on a bye week. It used to be Brad Smith and bench for Missouri guys. Now I can throw Maclin, Daniel, and Temple (post-injury) in my lineup without worry.

The other side of the spectrum is when I started Vince Young and LenDale White in a fantasy game last week. Each player scored me two points, and I lost when a start by Maurice Jones-Drew (feel the irony) and Derek Anderson would have led me to victory. This might be the first weekend in history that Missouri and the Titans have games on national TV. Missouri’s on FSN which barely counts. The Titans have the CBS game for the second time all year. I’m playing the contrarian and starting Young after last week’s infamous Game of Suck. White and his flu-like symptoms can stay on the bench.

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