MIZZOU Heavy Favs
Chase Daniel and the Missouri offense frequently look unstoppable. No defense has stopped them even for one possession recently.
Daniel and the nation's highest-scoring offense look to put up more eye-popping numbers Saturday when the fifth-ranked Tigers host Buffalo.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Missouri -34 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Missouri -34 (View College Football bet percentages).
Through their first three games, the Tigers (3-0) have made scoring look easy. They've racked up 173 points - most in the nation and an average of an astounding 57.7 per game - while averaging 10 yards per play.
Heisman hopeful Daniel is the biggest reason why. Despite leaving the last two games early with the outcome well in hand, the senior quarterback has already thrown for 973 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception while completing 72.2 percent of his passes. With Daniel at the helm, Missouri is averaging nearly 40 points in the first half alone.
"We want to score every time we touch the ball," Daniel said. "We know that's probably not going to happen."
In the last two weeks, though, it has happened. The Tigers have scored in their last 13 possessions with Daniel in the game - 12 touchdowns and a field goal, including the first 10 possessions of last Saturday's 69-17 rout of Nevada.
"You look at him - it looks like he's playing better," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said of Daniel, a Heisman finalist in 2007. "Certainly he has raised the bar to the highest level."
Daniel threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns against the Wolf Pack. He has 9,153 career passing yards, easily surpassing four-year starter Brad Smith's old school record of 8,799.
Four Missouri players - tight end Chase Coffman and wideouts Jared Perry, Jeremy Maclin and Tommy Saunders - already have more than 200 receiving yards this season, and all are averaging at least 14 yards per catch. All four players also have scored multiple touchdowns, led by Maclin's four.
All the offense through the air opens up room on the ground, and sophomore running back Derrick Washington has taken advantage with 272 yards, a 7.8 yards-per-carry average and six scores.
"Derrick Washington has come in and played at a very high level," Pinkel said. "When you lose a starter like (2007 leading rusher) Tony Temple, and you wonder why we might be executing so well, it's because a tailback comes in and is playing at such a high level."
The Bulls (2-1) may be hard-pressed to keep up with Missouri's offense, but they've shown the ability to score frequently so far in 2008, with 88 points in their first three games.
The most dramatic of those points were the most recent. Drew Willy's 35-yard touchdown pass to Naaman Roosevelt on the game's final play gave Buffalo a 30-28 victory over Temple last week in a wild Mid-American Conference opener.
"Great win for our program," Buffalo coach Turner Gill said after a game that featured three lead changes in the final 2:27. "Great win for our community. Great win for this university. I'm proud of our players.
"You always talk about believing. You always talk about not giving up, you always talk about finishing. Our theme is about being relentless to the finish."
For Roosevelt, the touchdown capped a day in which he caught eight passes for 132 yards to earn MAC East Offensive Player of the Week honors. The junior wide receiver has 18 receptions for 351 yards and three scores in 2008.
Willy has begun his senior season in fine form, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 792 yards, eight TDs and two interceptions.
As these schools prepare to meet for the first time, Pinkel is showing respect for Buffalo's program.
"Turner Gill has done a great job at the University of Buffalo," Pinkel said. "He has really got a football team that is well coached and disciplined. ... Defensively they're a good team, good blitz package, they do a lot of good things. It'll be a challenge."
Buffalo is off to its best start since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1999, and is seeking its first 3-1 start since 1996.
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