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Talkin’ Tigers

One of the great SBN blogs out there is Rock M Nation which covers the Missouri Tigers. You might remember them from last year as we exchanged information for the Big 12 Championship Game in San Antonio. Well, both the Sooners and the Tigers are back in the title game again this year and so is Rock M Nation with some answers about the Tigers.

CCM: Missouri's offensive coordinator is on his way out the door. Oklahoma experienced this in 2003 with defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. Do you see it having any effect of the Tigers in the championship game? 

RMN: If I were to compile a list of reasons why I thought Missouri would struggle and/or lose in the Big 12 Championship to Oklahoma, I'm not sure Christensen's departure would crack the Top 25. Christensen has chosen to stick around for the Big 12 Championship as well as Missouri's bowl game, and even if he had not, his eight years at Missouri have pretty much made his system second nature to his players. Not to mention, his quarterback knows the offense almost as well as he does. I think it may be a bit of a motivator more than anything. Missouri isn't Oklahoma - it's not used to having its assistants be coveted and/or poached. Christensen's new job is validation that other programs want what Missouri is building. That's a huge boost of confidence for this program.

CCM: Despite being ranked second in the conference in both points allowed and points scored the Tigers dropped three games in conference. What is it that they are missing this season from last year's team?

RMN: That's been a huge enigma for all of us who follow Missouri. All the pieces should have been in place. I think the only thing that's been missing is the swagger and the "us against the world" mentality. It took a couple of weeks, but a few Missouri players finally admitted that they weren't as focused for the OSU game as they should have been since they had watched the Red River Shootout earlier in the day and knew they were playing for No. 1. That OSU loss really deflated the team, and what transpired in Austin was as painful of a football game as I've seen in a long time. Furthermore, Missouri's pass defense has fallen off the face of the earth from last year. Last year, if William Moore wasn't the best safety in the country over the last eight games, he was at least in the conversation. This year, he's gotten lost in the scheme while playing a lot of nickel back, and while he provides a major boost in run support, the unit really misses his contribution to the pass D over the top.


CCM: The talk of the town this week so far has been Oklahoma's vaulting over the Texas Longhorns into the conference championship game. What did you want to see happen? A rematch with the Sooners from last year or the Longhorns this year?

RMN: Honestly, the best thing that could have happened would have been for OSU to beat the Sooners and send Texas Tech to
Kansas City. In the same way that Oklahoma and Stoops have the psychological edge over Missouri, Pinkel has that same edge over Mike Leach. I obviously can't speak universally for Missouri fans, but most of us wanted no part of OU or UT. Oklahoma's clicking on all cylinders right now, and we've already seen what Texas can do to Missouri.

CCM: Jeremy Maclin seemed to get a little banged up against Kansas on Saturday afternoon. What is his status for this game?

RMN: I've heard almost nothing on Maclin's health this week, so I assume he's good to go. It seemed like a weekly occurrence last year that he'd get shaken up, send us all into panic, and then be back five plays later. I haven't heard otherwise, so I'm guessing Maclin will be a full speed. The bigger concern is the health of Chase Coffman. The Missouri offense loses a dimension when No. 45 isn't healthy. Last year, Oklahoma dominated Missouri in the Big 12 Championship in part because Daniel had no security blanket on non-passing downs and because the Tigers had no go-to receiver in the red zone. Both of those roles belong to Chase Coffman, and both are vital to Missouri's offensive efficiency. Coffman is once again hobbled, but he says he should play at about 80 percent this week.

CCM: Todd Reesing threw for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns against Missouri on Saturday. What's the plan for stopping Sam Bradford this weekend?

RMN: I really don't know to be honest. Even when things seem to go wrong for Bradford, they seem to find a way to go right for Oklahoma. Tipped ball in Dallas? No problem, Broyles has it. Manny Johnson tips a ball straight up in the air? Gresham will take it and stroll in for a touchdown. Fumbled snap on the goalline? Bradford will casually pick it up and waltz into the endzone. I haven't heard any specifics about how Missouri will approach Bradford and Co. Usually, I'd say it's imperative to pressure Bradford, but defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has gotten some serious heat for often his unit seems to have blitzes picked up and leave the secondary hanging out to dry. After watching Todd Reesing continually dodge his way out of pressure and find wide open receivers downfield, it ought to be interesting to see if Eberflus reverts to the bend-but-don't break. Given Oklahoma's redzone efficiency, it may be a bit of a death wish, but I can't imagine him repeating last week either.

CCM: Finally, how about a score prediction?

RMN: We're all hoping for the 2003 Kansas State formula. We're hoping the Big 12 North underdog upsets the unbeatable Oklahoma team in Kansas City despite a rough stretch in the middle of the season that cost it national title aspirations. I think Missouri ought to be able to put up points on Oklahoma, but unless Oklahoma commits several turnovers or stops itself, I don't see the Missouri defense being able to give the Tigers a shot to win. In the end, I'll say something along the lines of 48-34 in favor of Oklahoma.