In a media landscape that has turned nearly every minute into its own 24-hour news cycle, storylines and common wisdom are born, blown up or forgotten quicker than the human conscious cares to recognize.
During the summer, Rock M Nation ran a series titled "Devil's Advocate," in which blog authors attempted to confront some of the "common wisdom" that permeated the fan base in the long summer months leading up to kickoff. With Missouri defeating Iowa State, 14-0, last Saturday, much of the focus of the fan base is on what's ahead: a neutral site date with the Kansas Jayhawks, a bowl game and a shot at 11 wins. But as the schedule creeps into late November, let's take a look back at those summer preconceptions.
Verdict: Missouri was indeed 5-0 heading into their game against Texas A&M in College Station, but it didn't come without tense moments. For all intents and purposes, Missouri should have lost to San Diego State, as two fourth quarter interceptions by Blaine Gabbert essentially put the Aztecs a first down away from a road win in Columbia. The game that provided the "Moe Miracle" was Mizzou's closest call, but it wasn't the lone non-conference alarm. Missouri trailed Illinois at halftime, 13-3, in the season opener before rattling off 20 unanswered points. Those two victories supplemented Mizzou's three blowouts (McNeese State, Miami (Ohio) and Colorado) and proved the conventional wisdom correct.
Verdict: Barring a four-INT stretch to end the season (and if it happens, I'll gladly retire this column in the name of anti-jinxdom), Gabbert appears likely to come in shy of his nine picks from a year ago. But putting total numbers aside, it's Gabbert's interception rate that's been mind-blowingly low in 2010. After throwing an interception on 2.4 percent of throws a year ago, Gabbert has thrown picked on only 1.28 percent of attempts in 2010. The kid whose tools scream "NFL Starter Kit" still has a ways to go to complete his game, but empirically speaking, he's protected the ball far better than anyone could have reasonably expected this season. From 2006-09, only seven teams (per-player data was not centralized for quick analysis) have had interception rates lower than Gabbert's current percentage, including 2009 Boise State and 2006 Texas A&M amongst others.
Verdict: Incomplete. Smith's 4.5 sacks won't be challenging anyone on the national leaderboard, but that statement says more about the broken fibula in his right leg than his play on the field. Smith was absent for a three-game stretch and surrendered the team lead in sacks to Brad Madison in the process.
Verdict: There is perhaps no bit of conventional wisdom that has been proven correct in an odder fashion. T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew have become the workhorses of the receiving corps, pulling in 59 percent of Missouri's 255 pass completions. Jackson and Kemp, on the other hand, have combined for 27 percent of receptions. So though Kemp and Jackson haven't played the role many anticipated prior to the season, it's been their bigger performances of the season -- Texas A&M and Oklahoma -- that have hinted at Mizzou's multi-dimensionality when they factor into the offense.
Verdict: He did. And it was good.