Back in the Fold

Ames , IA - Before the season began, the Big 12 North title looked like it would come down to the Missouri-Kansas meeting in the final weekend of November.

Now, it seems like that game might just be a final tuneup for the Tigers before the conference championship.

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The 12th-ranked Tigers hope to win their second consecutive division title on Saturday when they visit struggling Iowa State, which is trying to avoid losing its ninth straight game.

Oddsmakers from have Missouri –26.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Wednesday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Missouri –26.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Missouri (8-2, 4-2) won its first North title with a 36-28 victory over Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium last season. Those programs conclude the 2008 regular season in Kansas City on Nov. 29, but that game might not have the same significance.

The Tigers can clinch the North and a berth in the Big 12 championship game with a win at Iowa State (2-8, 0-6) and a loss by the Jayhawks against fourth-ranked Texas on Saturday.

"If that happens, great," Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "We want to win out, that's our goal. We control our destiny and we're not worried about anyone else, just about getting our job done."

The Tigers' national title hopes were dashed with losses to then-No. 17 Oklahoma State and then-No. 1 Texas on consecutive Saturdays in October, but a BCS bowl berth is still a possibility if Missouri can win the conference championship.

"We're 8-2, and now I just want to be 9-2," coach Gary Pinkel said. "We've just got to focus. We want to play our best football in November and there's a lot of things out there, but you've got to take care of your business."

The Tigers defeated Kansas State 41-24 last Saturday as Chase Daniel threw for 271 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Maclin scored three TDs and totaled 278 all-purpose yards.

Despite racking up 511 yards against the Wildcats, Daniel was frustrated that the offense converted just 5-of-13 third-down opportunities and had to settle for two short field goals inside the red zone.

Daniel leads an offense that's fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing (351.5 yards per game), fourth in scoring (45.1 points per game) and sixth in total offense (513.8), but he has not been as sharp lately. The senior has thrown nine interceptions in his last five games after throwing just one in his first five.

"Expectations are high around here," Daniel said. "We've got to fix some things. I'm hurting the team right now and that can't happen."

Daniel should be able to get things turned around against the Cyclones, who have had no luck stopping the pass this season.

Iowa State ranks 115th out of 119 FBS schools in pass defense (271.3) and has allowed 25 touchdown passes, more than any other BCS school.

Daniel completed 28 of 37 passes for 250 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Tigers' 42-28 win over the Cyclones last season.

Daniel has set school records for passing yards (11,444) and touchdown passes (90), and got his big break against Iowa State in 2005. Daniel, then a freshman, came into the game in the fourth quarter for the injured Brad Smith with the Tigers trailing 24-14 and rallied Missouri to a 27-24 overtime victory, finishing 16-of-23 for 185 yards and a TD.

"You could tell he was going to be a great quarterback," Cyclones senior defensive back Brandon Hunley said. "The things he's doing and has done over the years has not been unexpected at all."

Iowa State is coming off its eighth straight loss, 28-24 to Colorado last Saturday after allowing the Buffaloes to score the final 15 points in the fourth quarter. The Cyclones drove 60 yards to Colorado's 1-yard line with 3 seconds remaining, but running back Alexander Robinson was stuffed for a loss as time expired.

"It was basically a fourth quarter meltdown," Cyclones coach Gene Chizik said.

Robinson finished with 101 yards and two touchdowns against the Buffaloes, giving him 341 yards and five scores on 65 carries in his last four games. He rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts in last season's game against Missouri.

The Tigers have won four of the last five games over Iowa State, which has lost 12 straight against ranked opponents since a 30-16 victory over then-No. 22 Colorado on Nov. 12, 2005.

"We need to stay positive, stay together in order to get a win this next game," Iowa State linebacker Jesse Smith said.

Top Betting Trends
All games in this series since 1992
IOWA ST is 9-7 against the spread versus MISSOURI since 1992
MISSOURI is 9-7 straight up against IOWA ST since 1992
5 of 8 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
IOWA ST is 2-0 against the spread versus MISSOURI over the last 3 seasons 
IOWA ST is 1-1 straight up against MISSOURI over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at IOWA ST since 1992
IOWA ST is 4-4 against the spread versus MISSOURI since 1992
IOWA ST is 5-3 straight up against MISSOURI since 1992
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at IOWA ST over the last 3 seasons.
IOWA ST is 1-0 against the spread versus MISSOURI over the last 3 seasons 
IOWA ST is 1-0 straight up against MISSOURI over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[TE] Chase Coffman injured last game, probable - Foot - 11/02/08
[OL] Bryan Webb has quit the team. - Personal - 08/16/08
[DE] Tommy Chavis limited last game, probable. - Undisclosed - 11/05/08
[DE] Michael Keck has quit the team. - Personal - 09/03/08
[LB] Steve Redmond expected to miss entire season - MCL - 09/15/08
[QB] Phillp Bates has left the team - None - 10/09/08
[OL] Mike Knapp expected to miss rest of season - Knee - 10/29/08
[DB] Kennard Banks out indefinitely. - Arm - 09/02/08

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Posted: 11/11/08 3:31 PM

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