It's been a busy week here with a lot of writing going on, so sorry about the lack of posting. Its not that I haven't been excited about the game tonight. I've been watching and reading everything I come across that talks about the game. For those that don't know, Missouri and Oklahoma play tonight at 7 pm central time for the Big 12 championship. This is really nothing new for Oklahoma, as they seem to be in this position just about every year. But for Missouri, they have never been to the Big 12 championship and haven't won their division since the 60's. So you can say its kind of a big deal for the Tigers.
There isn't nearly the rivalry between these two team as there was leading up to the game last week. Missouri and Kansas are true rivals and have been that way for a while. Also, Missouri and Kansas football programs are usually sub-par (to put it nicely), so they usually get blown away against the big boys of Oklahoma. I guess its hard to establish any kind of rivalry against a team that beats you year after year. I heard that Missouri hasn't beaten Oklahoma since 1998.
This year is different, however. Its true that Oklahoma is the sole loss for the Missouri football team, but it wasn't really a blow out. The game WAS in Norman, Oklahoma, so there was clearly a home field advantage. Also, Missouri had the lead into the 4th quarter, when their play got really sloppy and they turned over the ball a few times. They were also without their top running back, Tony Temple, who will be active for today's game. So I think that Missouri has a legitimate shot at beating Oklahoma today and advancing to the national championship for the first time ever. Who would've thought it?
To get to that point, I think that the key for Missouri is their defense. Missouri has a great offense, with quarterback and Heisman candidate Chase Daniel leading the way. Jeremy Maclin is an amazingly athletic wide receiver who can really change the pace of the game, and Danario Alexander made a big splash last week against Kansas after missing much of the season. And this doesn't mention future NFL tight ends Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman. So why is the defense so important today? Well, I'm pretty sure Missouri will be able to put up some serious points. Their lowest point total of the season is 31, which coincidentally was against Oklahoma. I think their defense will be key because they'll have to stop another great offense of the Oklahoma Sooners. Led by freshman phenom quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma is able to put up some serious points too. I also think they have a better running game than Missouri. Fortunately for the Tigers, Oklahoma's #1 rusher, DeMarco Murray, is out for the game. But they certainly have some depth. Their #2 back, Allen Patrick, is actually their leading rusher on the season, while their #3 running back, Chris Brown, ran all over Missouri earlier this season en route to a 3 touchdown performance. So I think its up to the defense to keep the Oklahoma offense contained as much as possible. As long as they keep the score relatively low, Missouri has a good shot at winning. A performance like the first half of last week's Kansas game would be nice, where they held KU scoreless.
There's a lot on the line today for both teams, but probably more for the Tigers. Not only are they in a position they've never been before, but they also control their own destiny for the bowl season. A win today and they can start making their plans for New Orleans to play in the national championship game in January. It seems like most people are divided on who they expect to win this game. Lee Corso from ESPN's College Gameday picks Missouri to beat Oklahoma, while this guy goes and picks Oklahoma. Who would you believe?
As for my prediction? I foresee a high-scoring, but close, game. Mizzou 45, Oklahoma 42.