As we did earlier in the season, Matt, head honcho of Crimson and Cream Machine, and I have exchanged questions in preparation for this week's Big 12 Championship between Mizzou and Oklahoma. As soon as my responses are available, I will post a link to them here.
RMN: How big are the losses of Demarco Murray and (potentially) Auston English?
Matt: The absence of Austin English would be more costly to the Sooners than DeMarco Murray. Looking back on last month’s game in Norman English made several OU’s defense while Murray was a non-factor. Oklahoma’s pass rush has suffered without English while their rushing attack rolled on last week despite Murray’s absence.
RMN: What exactly happened in the loss to Texas Tech (minus the Bradford injury)? What could Missouri learn from that loss?
Matt: The offense just couldn’t find a rhythm until the fourth quarter when it was too late. I really don’t blame the defense for that loss as much as other people do. It was the offense’s inability to move the ball that cost the team and put the defense in difficult situations against one of the best offenses in the country. Had it not been for a botched fake punt attempt then the defense would have shut-out Texas Tech in the second half.
What can Missouri learn from it? OU’s offense has played two bad halves of football this season. The first was the second half at Colorado and then the first half at Texas Tech. In both instances it cost the
Sooners the football game. Missouri’s defense is going to have to disrupt OU’s offense and throw them off their game. We have learned that it doesn’t have to be for the entire game. Just a half would put the Tigers in position to win.
RMN: How motivated are the Sooners by all the attention Missouri has gotten recently?
Matt: Bob Stoops is the master at playing up the underdog role. Unfortunately the Sooners are three point favorites against the #1 team in the country. I think that provides more motivation for Missouri than it does Oklahoma.
OU’s motivation Saturday night will come from having the opportunity to do something that no school in the conference has ever done, win back-to-back conference championships. If they need to look at the love that the Tigers are getting nationally for motivation then they are in trouble already.
RMN: Stoops and Venables seem to have Missouri's number. What are they going to throw at the Tigers this week?
Matt: I think you’ll see them try and do what they did in Norman last month. Defensively they want to stuff the running game and force Daniel to make plays while on the run. To do that they’ll use a variety of zone blitzes and coverage schemes.
Offensively OU will try to establish a running game to set up the play-action pass. I think there is a significant hole in Missouri’s secondary with the absence of Pig Brown. OU will try to exploit that by going to the tight ends.
RMN: Finish the following statements:
-- Missouri will win if: If the Tigers defense can hold to the Sooners to under 28 points.
-- Oklahoma will win if: If the Sooners rush for over 200 yards.
RMN: Bonus - Your prediction and score
Matt: 41-24 OU