Missouri and Baylor face off in an early November game that figures to have a lot of bowl implications. Both teams have four wins and both have one game left on the schedule against Kansas, so whoever wins this one will have to be feeling pretty good about their bowl chances.
This one features many extremely talented players, especially on the offensive side on the ball. James Franklin is maturing into one of the toughest and most exciting quarterbacks in the Big 12 and Kendall Wright could be the best receiver in the conference.
When looking at specific matchups, Missouri's best chance of beating Baylor has to start with slowing down the electric Robert Griffin, right? I mean, the guy is a Heisman candidate and the only reason this team is above .500 at this point, so if you are able to slow him down, beating the Bears should be fairly easy.
Think again. When examining Baylor's three losses so far this season, it becomes apparent that Missouri focusing all of its efforts on stopping Robert Griffin might be the wrong move.
Through the first seven Baylor games this year, Griffin has averaged 340 yards passing per game, but when you just take a look at his stats in the Bears three losses, that average jumps over 400 yards. He is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes in losses, which is just under his season average of 75 percent.
What these simple stats help show is that Griffin is probably going to play well on Saturday no matter what defense Missouri throws at him. Maybe Dave Steckel's defense wants to put its focus on making sure Baylor doesn't do anything on the ground on Saturday.
Digging deeper, there are some stats that show that stopping the Bears rushing attack actually should be the biggest key to the Tigers getting a second straight road win.
In Baylor's three 2011 losses, they have rushed 115 times for 309 yards, an average of 2.7 yards per carry. Looking at the personnel of the Missouri Tigers defense has to give the Bears cause for concern headed into Saturday's game in Waco.
This stat becomes even more telling when you see that Baylor is 20th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 203.7. Missouri's rush defense ranks 42nd in the nation and fourth in the Big 12, so they should put up a strong effort against Terrance Ganaway and the Baylor rushing attack. Focus on this matchup when Baylor has the ball. Whoever performs better in this battle will probably win this game.
On the other side of the ball, the exact same sentiment rings true. In Baylor's three losses, they have seen 123 rushes by opponents and allowed 803 yards on those carries for an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
That's not good news for the Bears, especially when the nation's fourth leading rusher, Henry Josey, is coming to town. Pair the electric Josey with a more than adequate runner at quarterback in James Franklin, and the Bears defense could be having fits against this Missouri offense on Saturday. That wouldn't be much of a surprise either, as Baylor ranks in the 100's in most rushing defense categories.
Sure, the Tigers would love to slow down Robert Griffin and that would probably give them a better chance to get their fifth win of the year, but focusing on winning the rushing battle on both sides of the ball will almost guarantee a win in Waco.