So we were supposed to leave OK for MO this afternoon, but my car got a flat...so two new tires and $400 later, we're leaving early tomorrow morning. The plan is to leave OKC around 6am tomorrow (after vomiting about 13 times), get to Columbia around 1pm or 2pm, watch Gameday on DVR, punch myself in the face until I pass out, then make sure my wife wakes me up at game time. Sounds like a plan.
Seriously, my brain just can't handle this.
And yes, mizzourobot, I will be live-blogging. I figured that's the best way to a) distract and calm myself for seconds at a time, b) avoid blacking out, and c) document the happenings just in case something insanely crazy takes place. Besides, we're 4-0 this year when I liveblog. And in case of (b) above, my wife said she would take over for me.
MU QB vs KU Defense
KU's defense is good, but not as good as Lou Holtz thinks they are. Meanwhile, I haven't picked against Chase Daniel in this category all season, and I haven't been wrong yet. Edge: Mizzou.
MU RBs vs KU LBs
Tony Temple is just a different back in November. If we can't get him a fifth year for the medical hardship, we should try to just get an extra month from him so we can play next November too. He wasn't fantastic against KSU, but he had an extra gear when he needed it, and if last year's KU/MU game is any indication, he'll be running great Saturday. Problem is, KU's LBs--Holt, Mortensen, Rivera--are every bit as good as they were a couple years ago. I was really close to making this a push, but I have to say...Edge: Kansas.
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MU WR/TEs vs KU DBs
Aqib Talib is a good, physical, pro-worthy cornerback...but a) he's not as fast as a lot of MU's WRs, and b) he can't cover everybody. MU's WRs are good, physical pro-worthy...and blazing. KU better make some stops with their front seven because the secondary is going to be hanging on for dear life. Edge: Mizzou.
MU OL vs KU DL
Line vs Line, the running game is a wash. However, Mizzou's advantage comes from the fact that a) they don't allow sacks, and b) KU isn't particularly good at the sacks. Edge: Mizzou.
KU QB vs MU Defense
Todd Reesing's biggest strength is, quite simply, he doesn't turn the ball over. His success rates are fine but not amazing, but he just doesn't ever hurt his team. Meanwhile, the MU defense's biggest strength is probably that they force turnovers. Square peg, round hole, etc. For now, I have to think that Reesing has the advantage. Edge: Kansas.
KU RBs vs MU LBs
Sean Weatherspoon really might finish his career as Mizzou's best LB ever, Brock Christopher was fantastic early in the season, and Van Alexander's begun to make some big plays as the season wears on. But Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp are the cornerstones of the Kansas defense. They're not amazingly fast or agile, but they're smart and they have great vision. This is an interesting matchup, but KU has the obvious advantage. Edge: Kansas.
KU WR/TEs vs MU DBs
Over the course of the season, Mizzou really has done a strong job of taking away a team's #1 receiving weapon, be it Jordy Nelson or Malcolm Kelly or Michael Crabtree or Maurice Purify. Marcus Henry might be the best of the bunch, but if Mizzou can him out of the gameplan somewhat, KU will have to rely on underneath passes to Derek Fine, the RBs, and the other WRs. They'll still move the ball, but they'll need big plays to keep up with Mizzou on the scoreboard. Edge: Push.
KU OL vs MU DL
The matchup of the game. Ends Stryker Sulak and Tommy Chavis seem to play better every week, but it's the interior matchup--Adrian Mayes, Ryan Cantrell, and Chet Hartley versus Lorenzo Williams, Ziggy Hood, and Charles Gaines (who has made as many plays as 'Zo recently)--where the game might be defined. If Mizzou clogs the holes and makes McAnderson and Sharp bounce runs outside, Mizzou is in very good shape. Mizzou's DL isn't a bunch of worldbeaters, but it very well might be the best DL KU's played against this year. Edge: Push.
There will be huge, momentum-shifting plays made by somebody's special teams unit...either with blocks or returns. Problem is, I have no idea who will be making those plays. Edge: Push. Again.
I realize Mark Mangino patented the "How to Beat Brad Smith" blueprint, but Brad Smith isn't at QB anymore. And Pinkel outschemed and outcoached Mangino in Columbia last year. Edge: Mizzou.
This is usually where the sports god smites me...I know that's stupid, but...Edge: Kansas.
Oh good lord...that's 4 for Mizzou, 4 for KU, and 3 Pushes. I hate this. And besides, why in the hell am I trying to look at this from an objective point of view? I'm a homer, and you know it. You know who I'm going to pick. So allow me to bail out and just repeat what I said in the Rock M Roundtable:
First: KU hasn't played a team that even remotely has the depth and toughness that Missouri has in the WR/TE corps. Rivera and Mortensen lead a tough, physical defense, but have you seen Martin Rucker drag tacklers around this year? That's rubbed off on the whole team. Mizzou can wear you down with both speed and physicality (there's a reason they're the only team in the country to score 30 in every game), and they'll wear KU down just the same.
Second: Speed, speed, speed. KU has it, and MU has more of it. I still can't get the image of Jared Perry beating Aqib Talib on the slant and then roasting him down the field from the 2006 MU-KU game out of my head. I realize that was last year, and KU's faster and better, but...so is Missouri, on both offense and defense. They're the fastest team KU has played this year.
Third: Chase Daniel. I think Todd Reesing is great, he's a winner, he's a leader, etc. Chase Daniel is everything Todd Reesing is, and a bit more. I will believe that until proven otherwise.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I've made my peace with the sports god. (S)he can smite me if (s)he wants. Been there. But if on the off chance, (s)he wants to try a new tactic with me, now would be a really good time to start. MU 38, KU 31.