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Big 12 North Could Be Decided When Nebraska Hosts Mizzou

There's no room for a homecoming hangover for Mizzou, as the Tigers and Huskers meet for the final time as Big 12 North rivals in Lincoln.

Ross Taylor of Rock M Nation presents this primer of what storylines you need to know before Saturday's Big 12 North showdown between Missouri and Nebraska. 

Narrative TV Announcers Will Make You Sick of Hearing: Mizzou is on upset alert!

ESPN would like to remind you that highly-ranked teams losing is fantastic theater, and there's certainly no doubt about that, which is exactly why ESPN BRINGS YOU THIS FIVE-SIREN POTENTIAL UPSET ALERT!!!!!

Of course, ESPN would also like to remind you that there's no such thing as betting on college football, because profiting off of student-athletes is wrong, silly! There's little need to bring up the fact that Nebraska opened as six-point favorites in Vegas, only to see bettors push that line even further in favor of the Cornhuskers. So, in one sense, ESPN is right. No matter what happens, they'll be broadcasting an upset on Saturday.

Narrative You Really Should Be Hearing More About: Both teams saying goodbye to the Big 12 North

While the rest of college football prepares to say farewell to the Big 12 North's only true threat once Nebraska defects to the Big Ten, the Missouri athletic department will instead opt for the catharsis of the following numbers:

BIG 12 WINS, 2007-10
1. Texas 39-8 (83.0%) 1. Texas 22-6 (78.6%)
2. Mizzou 37-11 (77.1%) 2. Oklahoma 20-7 (74.1%)
2. Oklahoma 37-11 (77.1%) 3. Mizzou 19-8 (70.4%)
4. Texas Tech 33-13 (71.7%) 4. Texas Tech 18-11 (62.1%)
5. Oklahoma State 31-15 (67.4%) 5. Oklahoma State 17-10 (63.0%)
6. Nebraska 30-16 (65.2%) 6. Nebraska 15-12 (55.6%)

The Big 12 North has belonged to the keeper of the Missouri-Nebraska Bell for the last four seasons and there's no reason to believe the same won't ring true for a fifth. Missouri has topped the Big 12 North in overall and conference wins since 2007, highlighting Missouri's relative stability compared to the much more volatile (Kansas, Nebraska) or generally mediocre (Colorado) other teams in the division. Farewell, Big 12 North. We've enjoyed our recent time together.

In a "Show Me" State This Week: Missouri's committee of tailbacks

I'd point out one single tailback that needs to step up against Nebraska, but no one can be quite sure which of the four runners will be called upon most in Lincoln. The quartet of DeVion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy has been quietly effective for the Tigers so far in 2010, but after accounting for 30 carries and 165 yards of Missouri's rushing totals against Oklahoma, the secret might be out. None of them are of the single gamebreaking or workhorse type of capabilities that seem to litter Big 12 backfields this season. But, with the help of fantastic play by the Mizzou offensive line, the tailbacks are at least making opponents account for the Tiger ground game now that Missouri appears ready to recommit to running between the tackles and not just on the perimeter. Between the strength of the Nebraska secondary and the Huskers lateral speed, Missouri best chance against Nebraska may be right up the gut.

For Your Mizzou-Themed iPod Playlist: "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" by Will Hoge

"Whoa, I can hear 'em playing,
I can hear the ringing of a beat-up old guitar,
Whoa, I can hear 'em saying,
Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart."

There is nothing more terrifying than belief for a MIssouri fan. Tigers fans are born and bred into a cynicism that even hipsters wouldn't find ironic. One thing goes right? We're ready for four things to go wrong for the universe to keep pace in the uneven scale of justice on which college athletics seems to reside in Columbia.

Then last Saturday happened. Now, Missouri fans think their team is ready for big stages, big things and big prizes. They think Missouri's ready to roll into Lincoln and take the Huskers. Missouri may very well be talented enough and ready enough to get a second-straight win at Memorial Stadium, but again, belief is a dangerous thing. There isn't just one other shoe waiting to drop -- there are 17 other shoes.

But at this point, why not keep believing, no matter now brief or how long the stay? Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.

(Unwanted and unsolicited music editorial: If you're not listening to Will Hoge, you're cheating yourself of one incredible songwriter.)

For Your Nebraska-Themed iPod Playlist: "F*** You" by Cee Lo Green

"I see you driving 'round town with the girl I love,
And I'm like, f*** you!
I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough,
I'm like, f*** you! And f*** her too!"

Pardon the language, but Cee Lo Green's musical masterpiece is just too perfect of a way to describe Missouri's views toward Nebraska's imminent departure from the Big 12 for the greener pastures of the Big Ten.

You see, Missouri's relationship with the Big 12 has never been abusive, it's just never been smooth. Sure, recently, the Big 12 has been good looking and it knows it. Missouri might not be grade A beefcake, but he's a solid six or seven. The Big 12 takes advantage of him every now and then, but the Big 12 never valued his input until all of the sudden this hottie from the upper midwest starts sending some strong signals. Missouri's been in love with this girl for quite awhile, and right when things start getting good, a dude in striped overalls and a plastic corn hat drives off with her. (And, yes, I hate myself for setting gender roles and metaphors back 40 years.) 

So, you see, we're feeling you Cee Lo. Keep your head up.

For more Missouri coverage, make sure to visit Rock M Nation.