Overcoming Odds

Missouri has already had a season filled with accomplishments. Another poor November, though, would take much of the luster off its impressive year.

The ninth-ranked Tigers continue their quest for a spot in the Big 12 championship game Saturday with a road matchup against Colorado, where they haven't won in a decade.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Missouri -3.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on Missouri -3.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Already bowl eligible for the fourth time in five years, Missouri (7-1, 3-1) has its sights set on a much bigger prize this season. The Tigers are second in the Big 12 North Division - one game behind unbeaten Kansas - and visit the surprising Jayhawks in the regular-season finale Nov. 24.

To secure a place in the conference championship, Missouri needs to reverse its recent history of disappointing Novembers. The Tigers have gone 1-2 in the month each of the last three years, putting a damper on what had been very good seasons.

"It's kind of where you want to be at this point," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "It's not real complex. If you want to win a championship, the teams that win championships win on the road, win at home, they win where they have to win, and that's exactly where we're at. I can't say it any more simply than that."

This is the third time since 1970 that Missouri has won seven of its first eight games. The two previous times - 1973 and 2006 - it lost the next contest. The Tigers haven't been 8-1 since they were 9-1 in 1969.

Missouri struggled on its way to a 42-28 road victory over last-place Iowa State last Saturday.

Lorenzo Williams recovered a fumble in the end zone at the start of the second half and the Tigers won despite being held to a season-low 366 total yards.

"A win is a win," quarterback Chase Daniel said. "You see everyone losing, all these upsets, games a lot closer than they should be. If we can get a win any day of the week, I'll take one."

The victory could prove costly for the Tigers, who lost senior safety Cornelius "Pig" Brown for the rest of the season with a ruptured right Achilles' tendon.

Brown, a top candidate for Big 12 defensive player of the year, ended his season with 70 tackles, three interceptions, two recovered fumbles and one forced fumble.

"People just have to step it up," Pinkel said. "That's the name of the game. We still have the same goals. We still have the same vision of what we want to accomplish. What that means, you lose a great player like Pig, the other defensive players have to play at a different level and the offense has to play at a different level than everybody around them."

Replacing Brown in the lineup will be junior Justin Garrett, who missed last Saturday's game due to a hyperextended elbow but is listed as probable for Colorado.

Missouri moved up four spots in the rankings following Saturday's victory. The No. 9 ranking is the school's highest since it peaked at No. 8 during the 1981 season.

After winning two games last season, Colorado (5-4, 3-2) has made huge strides this year. It is only one-half game behind Missouri in the North and boasts a victory over then-No. 4 Oklahoma on Sept. 29.

The Buffaloes, who need to win two of their remaining three games to become bowl eligible, rebounded from consecutive losses with a 31-26 victory at Texas Tech last Saturday.

Freshman Cody Hawkins threw for two touchdowns and the Buffaloes had four interceptions - three by Terrence Wheatley, who became the first Colorado player in 25 years with three picks in a game.

"When the ball's in the air, I didn't care, I was going for it. If I miss, I miss," Wheatley said.

Missouri has won two of the last three meetings with Colorado, including a 28-13 victory in Columbia on Sept. 30, 2006. The Tigers, though, have lost four straight at Boulder since a 41-31 win on Nov. 1, 1997.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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