In order to pin down what it takes for Mizzou to leave Bloomington victorious, we must start at the most basic principle of a win: scoring more points than your opponent. That's it. All you have to do is have a larger number under your name when the clock runs out, and you'll be saying hello to the win column. For scientific purposes, we will represent this truth as such:
Points Scored > Points Against
- or -
PS > PA
Scoring more points than the opposition: it's the easiest concept in sports. But we all know that there are hundreds of factors contributing to both PS and PA. By identifying the factors that will carry the most weight against a given team, it becomes possible to create an equation representing a Tiger victory. A winning formula, if you will. We will first take a look at the three most important pieces of PS: Tanklins, Remainders, and Opacity.
A Tanklin is the standard unit of measure for big, momentum-shifting plays. Its name was derived from QB James Franklin and his propensity for running defenders over. Plays like this can change the dynamic of a game. Executing one swings the equation strongly in your favor. Having multiple can all but ensure a win for your team, especially if you limit the amount of Tanklins that your opponent executes. When playing away from your home-field, Tanklins become even more important. They help quiet a hostile crowd, while giving your team a boost in morale. Because of this, the Tigers will require at least THREE Tanklins if they hope to return to Columbia with a win.
Remainders are numbers or quantities that have been carried over from earlier problems. In our case, this refers to points that carry over to the offense from defense and special teams. These points frequently come from return touchdowns, and can have an incredible impact on a game. Just last week, Markus Golden showed us how much a Remainder can shift the winning formula in your favor. Since just one Remainder can leave a huge footprint on a score, we'll say that Mizzou will need ONE of them.
This is perhaps the most important factor of PS. Outside of football, it is a measure of how much light can pass through a material. In our formula, it refers to how easily opposing defenders can pass through the Missouri offensive line. Opacity is represented by a number value from one to one hundred. As the value increases, the chances of a defensive lineman sacking Franklin or stuffing Henry Josey behind the line decrease. A solid Opacity rating means that the Tigers have time to complete throws and are opening lanes to run through, which will contribute to a successful offensive showing and more points on the board. Since this part of the equation affects so many others, it becomes a multiplier and not an individual variable.
By focusing on these three factors, we can update our winning formula like so:
Ω(3t+r) > PA
Now that we have defined the variables of PS, we can move on to determining what factors constitute PA. This side of the equation carries just as much weight as PS, especially on the road. The three essential factors for this weekend's game are Area, Air Temperature, and Handicap.
Solid defensive line play is quickly becoming a staple of Missouri defenses. Four NFL first-round picks under your watch will do that for you. This year however, the play of this position group has been less than stellar. If the Tigers want to have a chance this weekend, they will need their big men up front to collapse Indiana's pocket and disrupt their passing game. The less time the Hoosier quarterbacks have to throw, the more successful our defense will be. A small Area value represents a thriving defensive line.
Air Temperature (h)
The Indiana offense's biggest and most obvious strength is their passing game. If their air attack gets hot, it will be bad news for Mizzou. Because of this, it is imperative that our secondary continues to improve their game. If our corners and safeties can keep Indiana's stable of experienced receivers in check, the Hoosiers will be in trouble. A low Air Temperature means that E.J. Gaines and company have done their job.
Missouri's defense will be playing the first half of this game with a severe handicap. Senior LB and team captain Andrew Wilson won't be able to take the field until the second half, thanks to an unfortunate targeting call last week. DC Dave Steckel will most likely negate this handicap with a healthy dose of Nickel defense, but the team will sorely miss Wilson's leadership and tackling prowess. His absence cuts the number of defensive captains in half, crippling the on-field organization. This loss can be represented as another multiplier, since a larger PA value spells bad things for the Tigers.
With all six essential factors defined, the winning formula now looks like this:
Ω(3t+r) > 2(A+h)
Predicting game results is always a challenging task, but once you apply the scientific method the future can become a bit clearer. The numbers here a solid, and the hypothesis formed using them is almost foolproof. If Missouri can put up big numbers on the PS side of the equation while keeping the PA numbers low, we can logically expect a victory this Saturday.