YOU'RE LOOKING LIVE... at a primer of what storylines you need to know before Saturday's marquee tilt between Missouri and Oklahoma.
Narrative TV Announcers Will Make You Sick of Hearing: Stoops owns Pinkel
For what it's worth, the numbers support the narrative. Pinkel is 0-6 for his career against Bob Stoops, but it's not like he's shying away from that fact of life, either:
"As a head coach I've never beaten Oklahoma and it's my responsibility I get that done."
Perhaps more telling is the way in which Brent Venables, not Bob Stoops, has owned Pinkel and Co. Venables' Oklahoma defenses have never been short on athleticism, and he's generally lauded as one of the best spread-stopping minds in the game. In previous years, Venables has been able to confuse Missouri quarterbacks with different coverages, and he's actually been light on his exotic blitz schemes because of the strength of his front four generating a rush on its own. You can know the book on Venables -- eight-man fronts in standard downs and zone blitzes on third downs -- without automatically knowing how to beat it. Oklahoma has been great against Missouri's horizontal play calls, so if Missouri's screens are sniffed out early, we'll see just how ready Mizzou is with Plan B.
Narrative You Really Should Be Hearing More About: Options Three and Four
Blaine Gabbert likes throwing the ball to Michael Egnew and T.J. Moe. Hopefully this truth bomb didn't just blow your mind.
Egnew and Moe have been the targets of more than half of Missouri's passes six games into the 2010 season, according to this target chart created by Bill Connelly for Rock M Nation:
|Player||Targets||Catches||Catch%||Target%||Rec. Yds.||Yds. Per Target|
Egnew and Moe have clearly carried the Missouri receiving corps, much like Danario Alexander did a season ago, but the emergence of Wes Kemp in College Station a week ago is a promising development for the continued evolution of the Missouri offense. Missouri's offensive efficiency in 2006-08 was not simply based on the accuracy of Chase Daniel; it was predicated on Missouri's ability to distribute the ball to five different targets based on what the defense presented. Blaine Gabbert has the keys to the car, but options three and four -- Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson -- have the keys to the turbo boosters.
In a "Show Me" State This Week: Defensive end Aldon Smith
Smith told reporters for three weeks he'd be playing despite nursing a fractured fibula, but this week, it's actually going to happen. The truly surprising part for Missouri fans is how much the Tigers haven't necessarily missed Smith in his absence. Sophomore Brad Madison took his game to a different level at Texas A&M, registering three sacks of Jerrod Johnson. Freshman Michael Sam continues to create pressure off the edge. Junior Jacquies Smith's best games of the season have come since Aldon's injury. The defensive ends had a lot to prove in No. 85's absence. Now, Smith has a lot to prove in his return.
For Your Mizzou-Themed iPod Playlist: "Life In Marvelous Times" by Mos Def
"Wherever you ride, Whatever your lane,
This road called life is a beautiful thing.
And we are alive in amazing times,
Delicate hearts, diabolical minds."
What a wonderful weekend to be in Columbia, Mo. Missouri is 6-0 for the fourth time in school history. College GameDay is in town for the first time ever. It's the 99th Homecoming celebration for the university that created the tradition. The surely top-25 / probably top-15 / potentially top-10 Missouri basketball team is holding an open practice in the afternoon. Oh, and after all of this, Missouri gets to host the BCS No. 1 at Faurot Field in the biggest home game in Columbia since Mizzou thrashed Nebraska, 41-6, in 2007. It's been a beautiful fall week in mid-Missouri, at least until kickoff at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Mizzou fans will have been alive in amazing times.
At this point, Tiger fans' psyches are a delicate balancing act between their hearts and minds. Even before the Derrick Washington imbroglio and the rash of injuries/suspensions Missouri has fought on defense, a lot of fans figured 9-3 would be a good baseline for the 2010 edition of the Missouri Tigers. All of the sudden, hearts are atwitter with thoughts of expecting a minimum of 10-2. It's a dangerous frame of mind, but Missouri fans have always been content to buy high and sell low.
For Your Oklahoma-Themed iPod Playlist: "It's Time For War" by LL Cool J
"I've always shined brighter,
When I'm under attack.
I might be down for a moment,
But I always come back."
Is there a nickname for a coach subject to more debate than Bob Stoops' "Big Game Bob" moniker? Stoops made his name early in his Oklahoma tenure for his ability to come up large in big games, but Stoops' streak of BCS Bowl losses have resulted in a tremendous amount of criticism in college football circles. But that losing streak really overshadowed something else at play for the Sooners in the last few years: Oklahoma has had a tendency to play to the level of its opponents.
Missouri fans, of course, aren't quick to forget 2007. Oklahoma slept through a 27-24 loss against Colorado in Boulder and had trouble recovering from a Sam Bradford injury in a 34-27 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock. The Sooners had no such trouble when properly prepared mentally for Missouri (twice) and Texas. Oklahoma may well be fighting the same demons in 2010. In non-conference, the Sooners pulled out uninspired wins against Utah State, Cincinnati and Air Force, but absolutely pasted Florida State. If you're a Missouri fan, you probably aren't thrilled with the odds Oklahoma sleepwalks at Faurot Field.
The Oklahoma DISRESPECT!!! meme has always been a popular one at Rock M Nation, and even though the Sooners enter Saturday ranked No. 1 in the BCS, there's little doubt Oklahoma will use yet another gallon of Disrespect Fuel to "try to shine brighter when [they're] under attack" on Saturday.
For more Missouri coverage, make sure to visit Rock M Nation.