Columbia, Mo. (KMOV) --Just when I was prepared to complain about the home schedule for the Tigers, here comes OK State. To this point, Missouri has played host to SEMO, Nevada, and Buffalo. To the student body's credit, the stands have been full every game. To this point, they have been emptied at halftime, but that won't be the case tonight. All at once, the Mizzou faithful get rewarded with an ESPN2 game against the number 17 team in the country. Oh, and it's under the lights. Tailgating started yesterday at 5 PM for both sets of fans. The trash talking didn't take the night off, either. During a midnight run to Waffle House, I encountered a trio of Cowboys enjoying some of Columbia's finest fare. In line to pay, the mouths started to flap. In their defense, I threw the first blow. "Awful long drive to watch a loss." I know, that was uncalled for. In my defense, they were wearing full orange tracksuits, and they looked ridiculous. After responding with a crack about our secondary, the argument degenerated into obscure statistics and historical references. I left the place with an over-the-shoulder joke about how they looked like a retirement community during Halloween, and a distinct feeling that this game was just in time for the Tiger fans. With Missouri clawing ever closer to that number 1 spot, they badly needed a challenge before rolling into Austin, home of the Longhorns, who for my money will be number 1 after downing Oklahoma. The other thing waiting for the Tigers in Austin is a nearly millennia long losing streak. You thought Memorial Stadium was bad? The last time Missouri won in Austin, fans were tailgating with covered wagons. But we'll deal with that next week.
But Missouri does need an excuse to go crazy. It's time to see full throttle game. What can the defense really do? How much can Missouri really score? We will find out tonight. If I'm going to be a sportswriter, it's almost required that I make predictions. So be it. My prediction for the game tonight: the Missouri defense has its coming out party. This seems awfully familiar to Texas Tech last year. The same questions were tossed around about the defense and the porous secondary and the Tigers embarrassed Tech and Graham Harrell, boasting 4 picks and one of their largest margins of victory all year. From that point on, the Mizzou defense became a respected group that improved every game and put the exclamation point on their season with a Cotton Bowl slaughter of Arkansas.
Oklahoma State brings in quarterback Zac Robinson with over a thousand yards and 10 TDs. They bring in two running backs in Hunter and Toston with a combined 1100 yards and 13 TDs. Waiting for them are 68,000 fans with a chip on their shoulder and the first excuse to go crazy in weeks. On the field will be Sean Witherspoon and William Moore, two Missouri defenders who are going to use tonight's Big 12 showdown to make their mark and put to rest any questions about Missouri's forgotten other half. God bless College Football.
J.J. Bailey is a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism