Rock M Nation's Ross Taylor takes a look at the storylines heading into Missouri's foray into the wind tunnel known as Jack Trice Stadium. Unlike consuming the game in-person on Saturday, handwarmers and hot chocolate are not necessary for consuming this post.
Planning for Plan B
Most teams' fans are thrilled to hear their favorite team won't have to prepare for a team's starting quarterback. Apparently just the opposite is true at Mizzou. As soon as Iowa State starter Austen Arnaud was declared out for Saturday's game, Tiger fans immediately had flashbacks of other backup quarterbacks putting up big numbers against the Tiger defense. Take the three most prominent examples of the last four years:
2010: Taylor Potts*, Texas Tech (24-17 L) -- 19-of-28, 188 yards, 3 TD
2009: Nick Florence, Baylor (40-32 L) -- 32-of-43, 427 yards, 3 TD
2007: Eddie McGee*, Illinois (40-34 W) -- 17-of-31, 257 yards, 1 TD
*indicates partial game participation
Potts and McGee gave life to offenses after inconsistency (Sticks Sheffield) or injury (Juice Williams) gave life to previously dormant offenses. As Missouri prepares to face Iowa State backup Jerome Tiller, there's something to be said for the inability to prepare for a quarterback on whom you don't have much film, but Tiller is not one of those cases. Pinkel estimated that Tiller had close to 125-130 snaps so far this season, so if Tiller comes out and beats Missouri, it will be of his own accord, not the element of surprise.
Chasing Devine and 9 = 39
As Missouri sits at a simultaneously unexpected and disappointing 8-2, the Mizzou blogosphere has soothed itself at the imminent departure of Big 12 North title hopes by clinging to the possibility of yet another 10-win season for Missouri, which would be its third in four years. But with a ninth win up for grabs in Ames, Missouri is already in somewhat rarified air for a program with so many years close to sea level.
A win on Saturday would mark only the sixth nine-win season in Mizzou history, the first of which came during a 9-2 campaign in 1899. Since then, Missouri won at least nine games in 1960 (11-0*), 1969 (9-2), 2007 (12-2) and 2008 (10-4). With a win, coach Gary Pinkel would have three nine-win seasons, pushing him ahead of Dan Devine, with whom Pinkel is currently tied.
In addition, the win would anoint the 2010 Missouri senior class as the winningest in program history. The class currently sits tied for the school record with 38 wins and four bowls (including one to be played) in four years by virtue of the Tigers' 38-28 win against Kansas State a week ago. A ninth win of the season in Ames would push the senior class to 39 wins total and put it one shy of becoming the first Mizzou class to touch the 40-win mark.
*Yes, Kansas. 11-0.
Points off turnovers
Credit to the MU Athletic Department for turning up this tidbit:
In 10 games thus far, MU has committed 14 turnovers. Opponents have managed to convert those opportunities into only 10 points total. Against San Diego State, the Tigers committed a season-high 3 turnovers, with all 3 coming in the 4th quarter, including one inside the Tiger 10-yardline. But the defense stood strong, and got an interception near the goalline to snuff out one threat, forced a punt on one situation, and held the Aztecs to a field goal on the other.
The only Tiger turnover converted by opponents into a TD was by Oklahoma. That came on a muffed punt return by MU that the Sooners covered on the Tiger 45-yardline. OU converted by driving the short field for a TD.
By contrast, Mizzou has converted 23 opponent turnovers into 65 points.
Mizzou would be greatly aided should that trend hold true on Saturday. Iowa State's calling card in the Paul Rhoads era has been to pounce on fumbles and take advantage of any mistakes by opponents. Even though Iowa State's turnover margin is unremarkable thanks to 16 offensive turnovers, Iowa State's 23 defensive turnovers are tied with Missouri for second in the Big 12 Conference and 12th in the country.
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