Tomorrow night the Big 12 Champion will be crowned. To get better insight on Oklahoma's opponent we called on Ross from the outstanding Missouri Tigers blog Rock M Nation. Ross was gracious enough to talk with us about the Tigers, the Sooners, the match-up and who he thinks will win.
Ross returned the favor and let me talk about the Sooners at his site. After you read his responses here head over there and check out mine. Thanks for your time Ross and welcome back to the Machine.
Ross: You know, if you had asked me that any time before the Texas A&M game, I really wouldn't have any more confidence in the running game with Temple back. I was clamoring for the Tigers to start Jimmy Jackson, who had been showing the ability to hit holes, get tough yards, and find the endzone. But in the last three games, Temple (outside of the first half against K-State) has been running like a man possessed and hitting holes with authority - a Tony Temple we hadn't seen since last year's Sun Bowl. Chase Daniel has said he can always tell what kind of day Temple will have by looking in his eyes, and he's going to "slap him upside the head" if he doesn't have that look for the rest of the year. Plus, Temple is the most accomplished back in blitz pickup, and look no further than the game in Norman to show how much they missed him in that regard.
CC Machine: What's the latest on Chase Coffman and what does it mean for Missouri's offense if he can't play?
Ross: He actually injured the ankle against Oklahoma and it has just continued to nag him. He has been in a cast to immobilize the ankle for the early part of the week, and he's expected to test out the ankle in practice towards the end of the week. When asked by a reporter about the chances he doesn't play on Saturday, he answered "Zero percent." As for the ramifications on the offense, losing Coffman would hurt, especially in the red zone, where he has been money for three years. But it wouldn't make or break anything. The offense has so many weapons that losing Coffman just opens up 6-8 catches to be spread among Maclin, Franklin, Alexander, Rucker, Saunders, Perry, Temple, Washington, Jackson, etc.
CC Machine: What will Missouri do different the second time around that they didn't do in the first match-up in Norman?
Ross: I'm not too sure anything will be significantly different, as Missouri players and coaches really felt the Tigers could have won in Norman if they had protected the football. That entire storyline has been a big media focus this week and I'm sure has the Sooners incensed, but Missouri is a tough team (almost impossible) to beat when they protect the football. But I give ample credit to Oklahoma defense, which was after Chase all game. I expect more of a commitment to the run - especially draws - to try to offset the aggressiveness of the OU defense. I also expect them to move Daniel around more in the pocket to roll him away from pressure.
CC Machine: Does it concern you at all that the Tigers' defense gave up four consecutive touchdowns in the second half to Kansas?
Ross: It concerns me some, but a lot of it was change in defensive philosophy once the lead was built. The Tigers stopped attacking and sat in their "bend-but-don't-break" soft Cover 2, which Reesing picked apart.
The Tigers won't have a choice but to be aggressive against Oklahoma.
Mizzou has to get pressure on and punish Sam Bradford and they have to be strong near the line of scrimmage if they hope to contain Patrick and Brown. My biggest concern is for Justin Garrett, who at times, has looked absolutely lost trying to fill in for injured safety Pig Brown.
Kansas completely exploited him in the second half for major yardage, and if Kerry Meier can do that kind of damage, I don't want to see what Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias can do.
CC Machine: In your opinion does Oklahoma's Big 12 championship experience give the Sooners an advantage?
Ross: In ANY other year, I would say "Yes, absolutely." But this is Missouri team is unlike anything this program has ever seen. Missouri hadn't won in Boulder since the mid-90s, then Mizzou pummeled CU, 55-10.
Mizzou hadn't won in Manhattan since 1989 and went to Snyder Family Stadium and dominated the Cats. Missouri was mediocre in November under Pinkel historically but went 4-0 with wins over CU, Texas A&M, KSU and Kansas.
Before this season, Missouri had never finished over .500 in the Big 12 under Pinkel. I would undoubtedly give the experience edge to OU, but
I've learned that this is a new Missouri team, and as for tradition and history, there's one thing I've learned: They don't care. They really don't. This is their time, this is their time, and they'll be damned if any previous years determine the fate of Missouri in 2007.
CC Machine: Last but not least give us a score prediction.
Ross: -- I'm going to cop out and go with conditional predictions:
If OU wins the turnover battle, the Sooners grind out a 38-30 win on the ground.
If MU wins the turnover battle, Missouri rolls to a 41-28 win.
If turnovers are even, I like Missouri 38-34.
For the sake of argument, the turnovers are even, Missouri heads to New Orleans, and fans can turn from drinking heavily from fear and nerves to joy and adulation.