In a series that has produced incredible drama in the last few years, expecting anything but the unexpected from Mizzou/Kansas seems futile. Rock M Nation's Ross Taylor attempts to highlight a few matchups that could turn the 119th installment of the Border War on Saturday.
James Sims vs. Missouri front four
It's safe to say Kansas isn't stocked with the same offensive firepower to which they'd become accustomed during the past few seasons, but the Jayhawks have uncovered a potential gem in true freshman James Sims. If nothing else, he's in the conversation for best media guide photo in the country:
His 660 rushing yards are by no means eye-popping, and he's just as likely to put up a 20-yard performance as a 100-yard performance, but when presented the opportunity to run the ball as part of a balanced offense in a game Kansas is still competitive, he's delivered. Missouri's rushing defense is squarely in the middle of the Big 12, and any perceived problems it has stopping the run are thought to be squarely in the middle of the line. The Tigers have struggled at times to replace defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton, so don't be surprised to see Turner Gill's team take aim at the gap not occupied by defensive tackle Terrell Resonno.
After the numbers amassed by Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier at Kansas, Daymond Patterson's team-leading 483 receiving yards seem cute in comparison (Briscoe and Danario Alexander combined for 475 yards in last year's MU/KU game alone). Though Missouri seems well equipped to handle Kansas tight end Tim Biere, Patterson creates a bit of a matchup dilemma. Though his consistency can be called into question, his ability with the ball in his hands after the catch is the kind of playmaking ability Kansas has lacked for most of the 2010 season. At times, Patterson has looked exactly like what he is -- a converted cornerback playing receiver. He'll need his receiving skill set to be sharp against a Mizzou cornerback tandem that had acquitted itself well during most of the 2010 season.
Michael Egnew vs. Kansas linebackers/nickel backs
Mackey Award finalist and misspelled name candidate Michael Egnew has continued the recent Missouri tradition of hard-to-matchup tight ends operating from the slot in the Mizzou offense, and on paper, this matchup seems extremely slanted in favor of the Tigers. Kansas' starting linebackers are all good-sized, standing between 6-1 to 6-3 and around 237 pounds, but may lack the speed to stay with Egnew in space. Kansas' defensive backs may be able to stay with Egnew step for step, but have to contend with Egnew's 6-6 frame. His 78 receptions on the season are a team high and are only three receptions shy of the total of the other two Mackey Award candidates combined. His role has been crucial in punishing teams for shading coverage toward TJ Moe, and his importance to the Missouri attack was illustrated when Mizzou's entire offensive rhythm was thrown off in a 24-17 loss to Texas Tech in which Egnew has only three catches for 16 yards.