As we look at this season's to-date BTBS stats, keep in mind that we can approximately say that Mizzou and UT have played similar schedules. I mean, OU > OSU, but Illinois > anybody UT played in non-conference. In the end, it's more or less balanced out (to my naked eye, anyway), and we can take these stats at something close to face value.
|56.1%||43.9%||Field Position %||56.5%||43.5%|
|41.93||79.14||Total T/O Pts||37.27||57.12|
|+37.21||-37.21||T/O Pts Margin||+19.85||-19.85|
- This game will likely lie on the right arms of the two BFF's, Chase Daniel and Colt McCoy, as both teams have pretty stout run defenses. UT's run defense is a little better, but MU's run offense is better, so unless Ogbonnaya continues to break off 1-2 big runs a game, this is pretty much a wash.
- One thing I find interesting: UT allows 2.28 line yards per carry. So does Mizzou. That's a very good number, but looking at the overall rushing numbers, I'd have expected a little better for UT. For instance, they allow a 0.455 rushing S&P (compared to Mizzou's 0.542); but UT and Mizzou have allowed the exact same LY/carry. The reason: while Mizzou has allowed few big rushes (longest five rushes: 68, 41, 35, 22, 18), UT has allowed almost no big rushes (longest five carries: 26, 26, 21, 21, 19). Really, the only difference between the Mizzou rush defense and that of Texas is Kendall Hunter's 68-yard TD run and a 41-yard scamper by Illinois' Daniel Dufrene (which I do not even remotely remember--that game was a Shiner-and-Jager-fueled blur).
- Both teams are good at the leverage (avoiding Passing Downs on offense, moving opponents toward them on defense). They stay near 80% leverage while holding their opponents near 60-65%. Mizzou held OSU near 65%, while Texas held OU to 66%. Again, this is important because even teams who generally perform well on Passing Downs can get bitten by them eventually (Mizzou against OSU, for instance). The lower the leverage %, the more passing downs a team has to face.
- To no one's surprise, Mizzou has been more explosive than Texas to date (0.54 PPP vs 0.48 PPP). UT's PPP has risen in the last couple of games, thanks to a few long plays to Chris Ogbonnaya. I can't figure Ogbonnaya out--he doesn't look fast at all, but defenders can't seem to catch up to him. And I don't know how much of his success has been due to his own skills or the skills of Colt McCoy and the guys blocking for him, but he's torched a decent defense (Colorado) and a good one (Oklahoma) so far, and you can't argue with results.
- Both teams have similar S&P margins, both overall and in close games. In close games, MU is +0.427 (1.125 on offense, 0.698 on defense), while UT is +0.453.
- Both teams have the tendency to give up some big pass plays (they both allow at least 0.34 PPP in the passing game), but the key for Texas will be holding Mizzou as close as possible to the 37% success rate that Texas opponents have managed so far, instead of the 62% Mizzou has put up. And it all ends up tying together. An unsuccessful passing attempt here and there means more Passing Downs...and Mizzou sucked on Passing Downs against OSU.
- And speaking once more of Passing Downs, both defenses have been identically strong in this regard.
- Turnovers could always swing either way, but so far Mizzou has had a tendency of making more of the turnover game than UT has--they've benefitted from t/o's by about 3 more points per game.
- Mizzou's offense is best in Q1 and Q3, while their defense is best in Q2 and Q4, but overall they've been pretty consistently strong in both categories. Meanwhile, OU game aside, UT has been best on offense in the first half and best on defense in the second half.
- Texas' defense has the overall advantage on Mizzou's, but Mizzou has been better (and allowed fewer big plays) on third downs. Keep that in mind.
Projections after the jump.
Mizzou-Texas '+' Projections
- 2007 Mizzou Rushing Offense EqPts+: 136.70
- 2008 Texas Rushing Defense EqPts/Gm: 3.14
- Projection #1: 4.29
- 2007 Texas Rushing Defense EqPts+: 138.88
- 2008 Mizzou Rushing Offense EqPts/Gm: 13.94
- Projection #2: 10.04
Avg Projected Mizzou Rushing Output: 7.17
Adjusted for 2008: 5.0. No, I haven't lost my faith in Derrick Washington (or as the scoreboard at Faurot calls him, Der Washington) and the Mizzou offensive line. I just don't see Mizzou attempting to run a ton, and I'm okay with that. That's right, I'm okay with it, and for one reason: I see Mizzou having a lot of success with the "run-esque" short passes. The true "rushing" output will be small, but the whole idea (to paraphrase horrifically) behind a balance of run-pass is that you can exploit holes close to and far from the line of scrimmage. Mizzou's short passing game is really just a series of long pitches, and if they can use that to their advantage, they'll be in this game.
But it sure wouldn't hurt if Derrick Washington was able to actually break a decent run here and there...something Texas really hasn't allowed all year.
- 2007 Mizzou Passing Offense EqPts+: 156.79
- 2008 Texas Passing Defense EqPts/Gm: 14.74
- Projection #1: 23.11
- 2007 Texas Passing Defense EqPts+: 106.08
- 2008 Mizzou Passing Offense EqPts/Gm: 23.68
- Projection #2: 22.32
Avg Projected Mizzou Passing Output: 22.72
Adjusted for 2008: 25.0. Texas has been pretty decent at defending the pass, but a) those short passes I just referenced will count as passing yards, obviously, and b) they have indeed given up some deep balls. The opportunity will be there for Chase Daniel to have a big game, as long as the line protects him.
- 2007 Texas Rushing Offense EqPts+: 143.27
- 2008 Mizzou Rushing Defense EqPts/Gm: 6.46
- Projection #1: 9.26
- 2007 Mizzou Rushing Defense EqPts+: 121.92
- 2008 Texas Rushing Offense EqPts/Gm: 14.99
- Projection #2: 12.29
Projected Texas Rushing Output: 10.78
Adjusted for 2008: 10.0. This projection is based mostly off of a) my confidence in Mizzou's rush defense, and b) my fear of Texas' dump-off passes. Like MU, I expect UT to succeed more throwing than running. Then again, if Mizzou's DEs let Colt McCoy get out of the pocket in "run or throw" territory, the points could add up.
- 2007 Texas Passing Offense EqPts+: 116.46
- 2008 Mizzou Passing Defense EqPts/Gm: 15.92
- Projection #1: 18.54
- 2007 Mizzou Passing Defense EqPts+: 103.91
- 2008 Texas Passing Offense EqPts/Gm: 19.11
- Projection #2: 18.39
Projected Texas Passing Output: 18.46
Adjusted for 2008: 19.0. A disciplined defense could see success against Texas' offense--if you keep Colt McCoy in the pocket, don't miss any assignments (like OU started to do after Ryan Reynolds got hurt), and tackle well, they don't necessarily have guys who can create an 80-yard TD out of thin air (though Jordan Shipley did look great against OU). But they take advantage of mistakes, and Mizzou has the tendency to make a couple a game in the passing game.
Projected EqPts Score: Missouri 30.0, Texas 29.0
Home Field Adjustment (+~3 for home, -~3 for road): Texas 32, Mizzou 27
Texas: Key Players
RB Chris Ogbonnaya
Ogbonnaya has gone crazy in the last two weeks, catching even some UT fans off-guard. He has benefited from circumstance as much as anything--Colt McCoy's crazy last-possible-second dump-off pass to him against CU (I'm sure you saw the replay) was almost all on Colt, and his big, all-but-game-clinching run against OU was as much on OU's backup MLB for getting horrifically out of position. But even with that said, it's clear that he's emerged as a weapon, and Mizzou has to account for him. Cody Johnson is great near the goalline, but that's really his only purpose. Vondrell McGee hasn't proven worthy of a starter's load just yet, and explosive and injury-prone RSFr Fozzy Whitaker is more myth than reality thus far (seriously, BON loves that guy). Unless Whitaker suddenly emerges, it's on Ogbonnaya to be both the main running threat and the guy who McCoy dumps off to for good yardage.
Either WR Jordan Shipley or WR Quan Cosby -- whichever isn't being covered by Carl Gettis
Credit where it's due: Mizzou once again shut down an opponent's #1 receiving threat last week (Dez Bryant had just 47 yards), and it wan't even very much due to Carl "The Best CB Nobody's Heard Of" Gettis. Mizzou decided to put the bigger Castine Bridges on him most of the night (and hit him early and often), and it worked. However, once again a different receiver emerged with a big game--Damian Davis had 76 yards and 2 TDs. Neither Shipley nor Cosby are very big, so it's a given that Mizzou will stick Gettis on whichever they deem the #1 threat, and that receiver probably won't do much. But the other one could make the difference between Texas scoring 20 points and Texas scoring 40.
LB Roddrick Muckelroy
I mentioned previously that, in playing against the Mizzou offense, it doesn't matter how good your LBs are, and it barely matters how good your secondary is. OSU prove me wrong somewhat and proved that there's a way to beat Mizzou without having tremendous DEs: shoot the gaps with reckless abandon, confuse Mizzou's O-line, and tackle well. Texas will beat Mizzou if a) they can blow up Mizzou's running game and b) they can then tackle well and contain the short passes. The main man in regard to both (a) and (b) could be Muckelroy. He leads the UT defense with 20.5 'successful' tackles from the WLB position, and he allows SLB Sergio Kindle to serve as basically a rush end. Kindle and Brian Orakpo have gotten most of the headlines from UT's front seven, but Muckelroy could be the key against Mizzou.
S's Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas
Repeat after me: "Chase Daniel is going against a secondary led by two freshman safeties." Gideon and Thomas might be playing above their years so far this year (Thomas looked great against OU), but OU still passed for almost 400 yards last week, and if anybody can make them look like freshmen quickly and precisely, it's Daniel.
Mizzou: Key Players
QB Chase Daniel
We'll go with one big "DUH!" for this one. The last time Mizzou was coming off of an unexpected loss (2006 Iowa State), Daniel responded with 356 passing yards and 4 TDs (plus 39 rushing yards). He might need 456 yards this Saturday, but it's in him to bounce back from his worst performance in two years, and if Mizzou is going to beat the #1 team on the road, they'll do it via his right arm.
OLs Ryan Madison, Tim Barnes and Kurtis Gregory
These three are the starters on the interior of Mizzou's O-line. UT has great DEs, and therefore Colin Brown and Elvis Fisher will also need to pack a lunch; but OSU was able to break down the middle of MU's O-line quite effectively, and if they fail to do their job, this could kill both the Mizzou running game and passing game. Derrick Washington thrived up the middle for the first five games of the year, and there was nothing there against OSU. I do think Mizzou can win without Washington being a running threat (as I suggested above), but the margin for error becomes much, much smaller...especially if UT has an up-the-middle pass rush to complement Kindle and Orakpo.
DEs Stryker Sulak and Tommy Chavis
The best point Gabe at PowerMizzou made in today's PM mailbag is that Colt McCoy is at his best outside the pocket. He is a gunslinger-type, improvising and creating on the fly; basically, he's what I thought we were getting in Chase Daniel (instead of the automated computer that he turned out to be). His best plays come in high-risk, high-reward situations, and eventually that could backfire on him--just think of all the different ways his aforementioned spur-of-the-moment sideline pass to Ogbonnaya against Colorado could have backfired. But it hasn't backfired on him in 2008 yet.
When Colt's out of the pocket, he's in his comfort zone--when he's stuck in the pocket, he becomes more mistake-prone. Sulak and Chavis have both done well in making plays in the backfield, but if they get to McCoy, they better bring him down. Otherwise, simply containing him is the best option. If Good Colt is on display, chances are our DEs aren't playing very well.
FS William Moore
I mentioned last week that I would continue to put William Moore on the "Key Players" list until he has a big game. Well, he started to look like Willy Mo against OSU, but until he has a big pick, he's not back to 100%. He is Mizzou's game-changer, and at some point soon he's going to step up. And if he wants to be the one who makes McCoy pay for gunslinging ways, I won't complain.
No matter what you believe in the "Texas spurned Chase spurned Texas" saga, chances are that Chase Daniel marked this Saturday's game on his calendar the moment after he put ink to paper and faxed in his Letter of Intent in February 2005. What's funny is, while Mizzou has played well in Texas with Chase at the helm (romping through last year's Cotton Bowl, whipping Texas Tech in '06), Daniel himself hasn't played all that well. Needless to say, that ends Saturday. Mizzou won't beat Texas without Daniel having one of those ridiculously good days we've enjoyed over the last two years.
It's easy to remain haunted by the OSU loss (and judging from the aforementioned PowerMizzou mailbag, most Mizzou fans still are), but let's realize two things: 1) every team in the country has lost a game like that in the last year and a half, and 2) not a single Mizzou player will be thinking a single OSU-related thought this Saturday. It's removed from their head, and what remains is the fact that if Mizzou is going to win its first ever major-sport national title, it will have to beat Texas. No margin for error, no "They can still win out after this game and maybe have a chance" scenario. It's all or nothing for Mizzou, and we'll see how they respond.
I said yesterday that if Mizzou wins, I always want to say I predicted it. Well, I predicted a Mizzou win yesterday--I've got that covered. Today, I'm going with what the stats tell me and challenging Chase Daniel (and Cheat Code Maclin, for that matter, since I haven't mentioned him once in this preview) to make up the difference. Texas 31, Mizzou 27. Prove me wrong, Mizzou.