Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Can't spell SUcKs without KSU

By Tiger Fan

Let’s not beat around the bush: There’s no reason the Tigers should lose this weekend. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The only way it happens is if they are completely overlooking KSU in anticipation of next week’s showdown against OU… and even then, I think the Tigers could wake up in time for the second half and still win by a touchdown. If anything, Mizzou should be more focused than usual coming off the loss to A&M.

The line is Mizzou by 16.5, but let’s give some credit where credit is due: K-State has won 13 straight against the Tigers, so I don’t think it will be the cakewalk that some are predicting. However, these aren’t Bill Snyder’s Wildcats. They started the season by squeaking out a one-point victory at home against I-AA Illinois State and lost two weeks ago to Baylor. Yes, THAT Baylor. Other wins this season have come against powerhouse teams Florida Atlantic, Marshall and Oklahoma State.

All that being said, I hope the Tigers wipe the floor with KSU on Saturday. I’ve only been around for the last five losses, but it was five too many. Now, on to the preview:


KSU fans were quite excited when Ron Prince arrived last December to lead the Wildcats. They envisioned big things from the former UVa offensive coordinator and he started off on the right, putting together a solid recruiting class and stealing Josh Freeman away from Nebraska. But now that there is actually football being played, life isn’t so rosy in Manhattan. Rumor has it that after the loss to Baylor, Prince started kicking seniors and team captains out of practice. Starting offensive lineman Matt Boss left the team. Now there are five freshman starting on offense, including the right side of the offensive line and Freeman at QB. Prince was an offensive line coach before he became a coordinator, but you wouldn’t know it by watching his o-line this year. Pinkel has been a different coach for most of the year, but he reverted to his old ways a bit last week. No matter which Pinkel shows up on Saturday, he’s in better shape than Prince right now.

Advantage: Mizzou


The K-State defense has faired much better. In two match-ups vs. top 10 offenses (Nebraska and Louisville), the Wildcats have held their opponents below their season averages in points and yards. They gave up just 24 points to Louisville and 21 last week to the Huskers. Unfortunately, the offense let them down, coming up with just nine points combined in the two games. KSU ranks No. 36 in total defense and No. 30 in scoring defense, allowing 17 points per game. As we found out last week, the Tigers are very beatable if they turn the ball over… and the Wildcats have forced 14 turnovers through seven games this season. Sophomore DE Ian Campbell has been the leader on defense this year with 38 tackles with 12.5 for a loss and was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Week after the win over Illinois State. The Tigers should also keep an eye out for senior linebacker Brandon Archer, who has been a Mizzou killer in the past. He has returned interceptions for touchdowns against the Tigers in each of the last two seasons. Yes, the Wildcat defense is pretty solid… but they’re not on par with Mizzou. Even after last week’s debacle, the Tigers still rank No. 18 nationally in total defense. Put these guys up against a weak o-line and things could get ugly in a hurry. The only downside is that the Tigers will be without starting safety Brandon Massey, who is suspended for violating team rules according to the Columbia Tribune.

Advantage: Mizzou


The Tigers are ranked No. 15 in the nation in total offense and they average 32 points/game. Chase Daniel continues to prove he is a stud. I think it is pretty clear that if the offense manages to hold onto the ball (particularly at the goal line, Will Franklin), they can rack up the points. As for K-State… yikes. They rank 93rd in total offense and 93rd in rush offense. They fair slightly better in the passing game (No. 59), but that probably has more to do the fact that they have been playing from behind several times this season. The position players are okay – and true freshman QB Josh Freeman (who will be making his second career start on Saturday) certainly has potential – but none of that matters when your offensive line is terrible… and K-State’s line is terrible. Brian Smith and Co. should have a blast this weekend.

Advantage: Mizzou

Special teams

Mizzou’s special teams unit runs hot and cold (See: Adam Crossett’s 79-yard punt last week… followed by a 39-yard shank). The Tigers’ net punting game ranks No. 91 in the nation. Not to be outdone, the Wildcats come in at No. 94. The bad news for the Tigers is that K-State has a superior return game (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the damage done by Wildcat punt returners in the past). They rank No. 2 nationally in kick-off returns and No. 38 in punt returns. It should surprise no one that the Tigers aren’t even close. KSU kicker Jeff Snodgrass is just 10 of 15 on the season, but probably has more range than Wolfert. Meanwhile, Wildcat punter Tim Reyer averages more than 40 yards a punt.

Advantage: KSU

Bottom line

The Tigers should end more than a decade of futility on Saturday. They have superior athletes and superior coaching. Isn’t it nice to be able to say that about a Tiger team? The only thing that could get in the way would be overconfidence. But if Pinkel’s boys have any pride, they will come out looking for blood on Saturday to avenge the last 13 years. I think the KSU defense will keep it closer than we would like, but the Tigers will win on Homecoming, 24-10.

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