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Mizzou Links, 12-20-07

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#8 Mizzou Wrestling 23, #19 Pittsburgh 17.  Max Askren's 17-2 domination sealed the deal.

Illinois 66, Mizzou Women's Basketball 52.  The Illini shot 59% in the second half, and Cindy Stein's final Mizzou squad (did I say that?) is now 6-5.  The Missourian and KC Star have more.

And speaking of Braggin' Rights (the men's version), Gabe Dearmond tells you why this year's battle is so big.

No more moral victories. Missouri needs to win this one.

"We need to win this one not just for ourselves, but for the fans," Leo Lyons said.

True. The Tigers need something to galvanize a fan base which has spent more time manufacturing excuses not to watch this team than actually watching it. But the game is huge for the Tiger team as well.

The first reason is because, frankly, for the first time in a long time, you can make the argument Missouri should win. Both teams are battle-tested, having littered their non-conference schedules with high-major opponents. The Tigers have played Illinois, Arkansas, Cal, Maryland and Michigan State. Illinois has faced Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, Maryland and Oklahoma State. No team in the country has played more than the five BCS-conference teams the Tigers and Illini have faced. Each team has won two of those games and lost three.

These are not the Illini of Deron Williams and Dee Brown that are favored to make the Final Four. These also are not the Tigers of the latter Snyder years who had about as much fight as a newborn Chihuahua. The playing field has evened out. I'm not sure Missouri is better, but I'm pretty sure they're not any worse.

But most important, this game is Missouri's best chance at a signature performance in the non-conference season. Yes, they beat Maryland, but I don't think the Terps are a tourney team. The win over Purdue is looking better, but the Boilers probably aren't a top three team in the Big Ten. A win at Mississippi State would be huge, but I don't think it would catch the attention that a nationally televised win over Illinois will.

(And if that's not enough Gabey goodness for you, check out the Tiger Mailbag.

No current Tiger knows more about Braggin' Rights than St. Louis' Matt Lawrence.

Inside Mizzou catches up with 2009 basketball prospect Fred Gulley (Fayetteville, AR).

Dave Matter has a nice feature on Jaron Baston and Tim Barnes, two of the more important cogs on the 2008 Mizzou team for specific reasons: they replace Lorenzo Williams and Adam Spieker.

Matter also shares his take on recruiting on his blog:

If you ever needed a reason to temper your thrills on national signing day, Missouri’s newcomer class this year should have done the trick. A year ago this time, the hype centered on junior college D-lineman Andy Maples and prized high school athletes Michael Keck and Gilbert Moye. Not one played a down this season for the Tigers. Meanwhile, Carl Gettis emerged out of nowhere as a starting cornerback, Luke Lambert got into a steady rotation at linebacker and fellow freshmen Andrew Gachkar and Derrick Washington made some key contributions in their own ways. When it comes to first-year players, expect the unexpected. You never know who’s going to adapt to the intensity quickly — that’s what paved Gettis’ path — and who’s going to struggle adjusting.

Not one of Missouri’s defensive players who earned first or second-team All-Big 12 honors scored better than a three-star rating by when they were recruits:
DT Lorenzo Williams, FS William Moore and SS Pig Brown earned three stars; DE Stryker Sulak, and LB Sean Weatherspoon earned just two.

Still, I know, I know, recruiting matters.

Stewart Mandel had a fun take on recruiting in his Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls as well...might blurb that at some point.

Not totally sure why this was written now and not two weeks ago (when we were talking about it), but the Missourian has an editorial complimenting Mizzou's weak 2008 schedule because it will help them get to a BCS game after this year's snub.  And while we're talking about it (again, why?), the KC Star's Howard Richman compares 2007 Mizzou to 1998 K-State, something I didn't need to see.

Whether MU overcomes any lingering disappointment will be determined Jan. 1 when it faces Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Perhaps the Tigers can learn how to avoid the trap that K-State never conquered.

K-State’s bowl meltdown was weeks in the making. It all began that day in St. Louis when Texas A&M rallied in the fourth quarter and stunned the Wildcats, ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll, 36-33 in double overtime for the Big 12 championship.

When it all came to a devastating and stunning conclusion, recovery wasn’t easy.

"Ninety percent of the guys didn’t even want to go to San Antonio (for the Alamo Bowl)," former K-State quarterback Michael Bishop, now living in Texas, said. "That first week of preparation, I don’t think the players wanted to practice and the coaches didn’t want to coach."

Finally, the Blazers won their 9th straight last night...just sayin'...