October 6, 2006

Five Tiger questions for Texas Tech

Is Missouri's defense closer to TCU or UTEP?

This is a simplistic way of saying, can the Tigers slow down the Red Raiders. Tech still leads the league in passing offense and they're putting up a good number of points. But there are signs that the offense isn't as good as past outfits. The Raiders scored just three points against TCU. While they're averaging about 33 a game, at this point in past seasons, they have been near 50. Missouri's defense should be the most athletic Tech has faced, but Mike Leach's team is always a threat to put up a big number.

Will the Tigers lean more heavily on the run?

Tech has the best pass defense in the Big 12. It also has the worst run defense. In addition, it is usually a good idea to keep Leach's quarterback on the sideline as long as possible. All that said, Gary Pinkel has said he will not change his offensive attack. But you have to think Tony Temple, Jimmy Jackson and Earl Goldsmith might get a few more carries. If Missouri runs the ball 50 times in this game, that might be the best recipe for success. Long, sustained drives that keep Harrell and his receivers on the bench could put the Tigers in a great position.

Is Missouri ready to win a game like this?

Really, everything else is inconsequential. There is little doubt the Tigers have the talent to compete with Texas Tech. There is also little doubt that it has been a long time since Missouri won a game like this on the road. The last time the Tigers beat a ranked opponent on the road was a 51-50 triple overtime win at No. 12 Oklahoma State. That came in 1997. Prior to that, it was a win over No. 9 Mississippi State way back in 1981. Twice in 26 years Missouri has beaten a ranked team on the road. Missouri is off to its best start since that 1981 season. A win would make it the best since 1973. The answer to this question is absolutely the only one that matters. Be it a masterpiece or simple survival, can Missouri find a way to score more points than Tech? If so, the sky is the limit for this Tiger season.

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