You’ve seen the stats, now it’s time to make predictions! Leave your own picks in comments below...
Mizzou QB vs ISU Defense
As a whole, I think the ISU defense presents a much bigger challenge than the ISU offense. But needless to say, Chase Daniel’s faced much bigger challenges this season. Edge: Mizzou.
Mizzou RB vs ISU LBs
Ankle injuries like Tony Temple’s make you nervous because they could pop back up at any time. That said, Temple’s health is not nearly as much of a concern as we thought it was a couple weeks ago as long as the Jackson/Washington/Goldsmith/Woods superfecta continue to perform well. Alvin Bowen is the most well-known player on the ISU defense, but he’s not a big-time guy. As I mentioned in yesterday’s BTBS preview, he’s not a big playmaker. Jesse Smith is a much bigger concern in the playmaking category, but...yeah, Edge: Mizzou.
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Mizzou WR/TEs vs ISU DBs
I’ll keep the word count low on this one. Edge: Mizzou.
Mizzou OL vs ISU DL
As I mentioned yesterday, if ISU is to win this game, this is a matchup they absoutely, positively must dominate. They must make Mizzou one-dimensional by thwarting the run, then get in Chase Daniel’s face when Mizzou passes. That’s a lot to ask. While I think Mizzou’s O-line is above-average, it’s had consistency issues. Meanwhile, ISU’s DL played brilliantly against OU last week, and Ahtyba Rubin and Bryce Braaksma are quite solid. Edge: ISU.
Actually, scratch that. If there’s ever a game where the Mizzou OL plays with a large chip on its shoulder, it will be this one. Win one for Wyrick!! Edge: Mizzou.
Okay, fine. We’ll cancel them out. Edge: Push. But I will say that if ISU’s getting blown off the ball in the first quarter, things will get significantly out of hand.
ISU QB vs Mizzou Defense
If the Mizzou D plays like it has for most of the last three weeks, they won’t lose this category very often. Edge: Mizzou.
ISU RB vs Mizzou LBs
J.J. Bass has some potential, but the output of neither he nor Jason Scales (whom Dave Matter labeled a "career injury report" yesterday) suggests that either one would be an upgrade over Earl Goldsmith. Meanwhile, Brock Christopher is steady, Sean Weatherspoon is improving, and Van Alexander is REALLY improving. Edge: Mizzou.
ISU WR/TEs vs Mizzou DBs
For whatever reason (probably double coverage) ISU has thrown as many balls to R.J. Sumrall (and almost as many to Marquis Hamilton) as they have to Todd Blythe, who’s averaging less than 5 catches a game despite being by far the best offensive talent in an ISU uniform. That distribution helps out Mizzou, I think, and I just can’t shake last week’s effort out of my head. I realize that there will be about 8,000 fewer butts in the seats for this one, and at some point the level of play from Mizzou will even out a bit, but...Edge: Mizzou.
ISU OL vs Mizzou DL
Bret Meyer has only been sacked an average number of times, but it doesn’t take much to throw him entirely out of his rhythm. Mizzou hasn’t registered just a ton of sacks in conference play, but they’ve made their presence known to QBs, especially Sam Keller and Graham Harrell, both of whom are protected by lines better than the one in front of Meyer. Meanwhile, the ISU OL has yet to establish the run against a conference opponent, and if Mizzou's front four can prevent OU from opening up holes...well...Edge: Mizzou.
Mizzou owns Bret Culbertson (it seems like he always has his biggest misses against us). And Mizzou has Jeremy Maclin, who’s due a big return. Nice combination. Edge: Mizzou.
I admire Gene Chizik for taking this job when he could have probably gotten something a little higher up the totem pole by waiting. He really could build a winner there, but if he does (and it’s still a huge ‘if’), it’s going to take a long while. Maybe Urban Meyer could have turned the current bunch of ISU Cyclones into a bowl team, but he’s about the only one I can think of. While Gary Pinkel and Dan McCarney always seemed to have some great battles (no matter which team was better—or much better—just about every recent MU-ISU game has been tooth and nail). For now, though, the talent disparity is just too large, and Chizik’s too unproven to predict that he can make a difference. Edge: Mizzou.
Mizzou is due a letdown, and I’d much prefer it be this week than next week. A smallish, likely deadish crowd probably won’t help matters. Mizzou should still win easily, but I doubt we see them firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, an ISU letdown is also likely after their peak effort against OU last weekend. Edge: Push.
So I’ve got it 9-0-2 Mizzou. That suggests something along the lines of 48-6 Mizzou. I don’t think it will be that bad, though. I think the foot comes off the gas pedal this week just a smidge, and something closer to 41-13 is much more likely.