FX's "Game of the Week"
by Mizzou Matt 9/21/11
COLUMBIA, MO- This weekend, the Tigers will look to do what they have only done twice in 20 years- beat Oklahoma. Coming off of last year's 36-27 upset in Columbia, the Sooners again find themselves atop the polls at number one. Again, the "experts" are predicting the Sooners to win. Again, Mizzou has something to prove.
Coming off of a 69-0 scrimmage against Western Illinois, the Sooners (3-0) will prove to be the toughest test for the Tigers (2-1) this year. Oklahoma is coming off of a 23-13 victory over 5th-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee last week.
The key for the Tigers this season appears to be "give the ball to Josey". Henry Josey has 400 yards rushing on the season after his 14 carry, 263 yard, 3 touchdown performance against the Leathernecks. Josey broke 9 carries for 94 yards against ASU and 6 for 43 against Miami (OH). During the game against the Sun Devils, the ESPN announcers described Josey as "The ability to hit the home run".
Quarterback James Franklin has passed 61/93 for 694 yards on the season, including 6 touchdowns and an interception. Since the 129 yard performance against Miami (OH), Franklin has passed for 319 at ASU and 246 vs WIU, respectively. The one lonely interception came in the season opener.
The Sooners look to be the dominant team in this match up, and the "experts" are predicting them by 19.5 points. They may be the better team on paper with quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles, but they also don't have their leading rusher from last year DeMarco Murray, and they'll be without starting wide receiver Trey Franks, who was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Missouri, however, returns a veteran defensive line that overpowered the Sooners last year. Brad Madison, Terrell Resonno, Dominique Hamilton (depsite being injured in last year's game), Jacquies Smith (return questionable after dislocating elbow against Miami [OH]) and with new comer Sheldon Richardson. The Tigers have depth on the defensive line, but what they don't have is depth at other key defensive positions, namely, linebacker. Will Ebner is expected to miss the game with a high ankle sprain. That leaves reserve-turned-starter Andrew Wilson, Zavier Gooden and 6th-year senior Luke Lambert, with Donovan Bonner, Darvin Ruise, Tony Randolph and Jared Parham as possible subs. Freshman linebacker Kentrell Brothers is out for the season following surgery.
The offensive line is also an area of concern for the Tigers. After losing veteran left tackle Elvis Fisher, they've been susceptible to blitzes from that side as opponents try to use Justin Britt's inexperience against him. Jack Meiners, Austin Wuebbles, Dan Hoch have been solid, but the center position has been injury prone as Travis Ruth, who missed games with a strained Achilles tendon looks to get locked into the position vacated by Tim Barnes.
Questionable is T.J. Moe. Moe gingerly walked off the field favoring his leg after a punt return in the 2nd quarter against WIU, and never returned to the game. Jerrell Jackson made his return last week, and much like last year, is looking to have a stellar game. A wide variety of receivers saw playing time last week, including freshman Jimmie Hunt, who scored his first touchdown as a Tiger on a 54 yard pass from Jimmy Costello (also Costello's first TD at Mizzou). Marcus Lucas, L'Damian Washington, Wes Kemp, Brandon Gerau are expected to see playing time in Norman.
Mizzou will not look to their stars to get them past the Sooners. Instead, they'll look to their team to do it. Many teams rely on one or two players to get them through, this season, the Tigers have relied on 22. Eleven on offense, eleven on defense. There really is no one star player. All there is is a star team.