Tapping the brakes

First of all, a disclaimer: This sucks. Good. Now that that is out of the way, we can focus on the situation at hand.

While Mizzou entered this season with aspirations for an undefeated regular season, it's time that Mizzou fans face reality: it's not easy to do. Ever since Missouri walked off the Sun Bowl field in El Paso in December of 2006, the Tigers may have been, up until last night, the ONLY team in the country to have avoided losing a game they were supposed to win. Last year, almost no one in the country outside of black and gold thought Mizzou should win in Norman, and even though the Tigers entered the Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 team in the nation, Vegas had the Tigers as underdogs, and in hindsight, justifiably so. You can't find a team in the country last year outside of Hawaii who didn't lose a game they were supposed to win.

You could say Mizzou was overdue. Make no mistake, OSU was a game Mizzou was supposed to win. But this isn't to say Mizzou gave the game away.

OSU flat out beat Missouri last night. The gameplan was great. The players were inspired. The Pokes capitalized on turnovers. They pressured Daniel. Last year in Norman, Mizzou brought its A-game through three quarters before it things got away from them. Saturday, Mizzou was in a dogfight all night, and the offense that had been running like a BMW began running like a Pinto.

While we can talk ad nauseum about Chase Daniel not looking like himself in a falllen man's jersey, this one all starts at the offensive line, but perhaps there is a silver lining. Oklahoma State stunted and speed rushed Mizzou with great effectiveness. Like I noted in the podcast, Mizzou's zone blocking/wide splits/pull-heavy scheme is susceptible against a fast team who times the gaps correctly. OSU did that all night, and Barnes and Madison and others were failing to pick up ends on rollout pull blocks that they'd routinely picked up all year. If anything, their difficulties catching up to faster defensive ends will allow Pinkel and Co. to adjust the schemes before seeing Orakpo and friends in Austin next week.

Although the loss was gut wrenching and the task of winning in Austin still daunting, Texas' win over Oklahoma may have been the best thing to happen to the Mizzou program Saturday. If Texas had been blown out by Oklahoma and Mizzou rebounded in Austin to beat Texas, public opinion would have merely viewed Texas as a mediocre football team. After yesterday's Red River Shootout, if Mizzou beats Texas in Austin, the rebound is official and Mizzou shoots right back into relevancy. 

So, yes, no one wanted to see what transpired last night actually come to fruition. But you can make the case that Mizzou was way overdue, having avoided the "true upset" bug last year. In 2007, Mizzou opened Big 12 play by demolishing Nebraska then losing to a team from Oklahoma. They followed that by throttling the team from Texas, regaining the momentum that carried them to a Big 12 North title. No one should expect that to happen in 2008, but before anyone starts getting gloomy and dark on a quiet Sunday morning, tap the brakes and realize that there's a light at the end of the tunnel as long as Mizzou speeds through the pass undeterred.

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