Tigers to end streak tonight - KMOV.com

Tigers to end streak tonight

Superstition be damned. The Missouri Tigers will win Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

Yes I am aware it's been 15 games in the Red Lair since the Tigers have taken home a victory. And I was watching last Saturday while upsets swept through the top 10 like a plague.

Missouri was fortunate enough to be resting while some sort of witchcraft played out in Week 5, and all of Tiger Nation is thankful for it. But as far as miracles go, their time has passed.

The Tigers take the No. 2 offense in three categories to Lincoln: second in passing, second in scoring and second in total yards. Missouri is no longer the weak stepchild of Big 12 contenders.

Charged with stopping them is the Nebraska defense, ranked an astronomical 96th in pass defense, a far cry from the mighty "Blackshirts" of Cornhusker past.

Struggling against an abysmal Virginia Tech offense in their last matchup, the defense surrendered 377 yards through the air. This to a team that ranked close to last in total offense.

Missouri is led by Heisman candidate quarterback Chase Daniel, who has over 1,400 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. At his disposal are more weapons that Nebraska has schemes for including All-American shoe-in Chase Coffman, Heisman candidate Jeremy Maclin, and combo of tailbacks led by Derrick Washington, who is averaging nearly seven yards per carry.

It wouldn't matter if they were playing in Columbia or Lincoln, this offense is simply too much for a beleaguered Cornhusker team. But it may not come easily.

The fact that Vegas odds makers -- who know everything I just said and more -- are favoring Missouri by just 10.5-points should tell you that no one thinks this will be a slaughter.

If the home winning streak against the Black and Gold isn't enough motivation, vengeance certainly should be. In last year's meeting the Tigers blasted the Big Red Machine 41-6 in front of a national ESPN audience. To top it off, in front of a stadium packed full of maniacal Tiger fans, the last touchdown came on a fake field goal. Those sorts of things are not easily forgotten in college football.

Joe Ganz adds to the equation with nearly 1,000 passing yards and seven TDs. He will be up against a Missouri secondary that lacks a full-strength William Moore.

Even after a week off, Moore has said his ankle is only 85 percent and he is still having difficulty making sharp cuts. This worries many Mizzou fans who have seen a lot of passing yards go up against the secondary.

However, when an offense is up by 21 points in the first quarter, a defense is going to see passes nearly every down as a team tries to make up ground.

There are issues to be addressed, such as shoring up susceptibility to the big pass play, but this defense is not nearly as worrisome as one might think -- just ask Sean Witherspoon.

Opening conference play is like opening a can of worms, as most everyone saw last week. This benefits the Tigers most of all, as they badly need to be challenged.

Buffalo gave a dose of humble to Missouri in their last matchup as the Tigers played like a team suffering from boredom, and this week is an invitation to let out the throttle a bit. But the allure of a conference upset could be enough to wake the Huskers out of their three-year slumber.

To make matters worse, an 8 p.m. start time will give the fans plenty of time to get riled up in the parking lots.

In last year's pregame, the crowd was near blows by 7 p.m.; this year, the stakes are higher: a reputation to protect, a top-five opponent at home and ESPN status to boot.

Couple that with a crowd that's been drinking since noon and that, frankly, has nothing else to cheer for, and you have Missouri's toughest atmosphere of the season.

Bottom line: atmosphere alone won't erase the gap between these two programs.

Note: J.J. Bailey is a journalism student at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

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