|College Football: Oklahoma at Missouri Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2007 06:18|
Big 12 Game of The Year
Missouri has more than payback on its mind this time.
The top-ranked Tigers look to avenge their only loss of the season and secure a spot in the BCS title game with a win over No. 9 Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game Saturday night in San Antonio.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Okalahoma -3 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Missouri +3 (View College Football bet percentages).
Missouri (11-1, 7-1) became the fourth team - joining Southern California, LSU and Ohio State - this season to claim the No. 1 spot in the AP poll after beating then-No. 2 Kansas 36-28 last Saturday to win the Big 12 North Division.
That victory, coupled with then-No. 1 LSU's 50-48 triple-overtime loss to Arkansas last Friday, also pushed the Tigers to the top spot in the BCS standings. Missouri, which has not been ranked No. 1 since it spent a week there in November 1960, had never led the BCS standings.
"Obviously, it's a nice honor for our program," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "But we've got so much to play for and so much preparation to put in for a great Oklahoma team that we really can't spend much time thinking about that."
Missouri, which hasn't won a league title since winning the Big Eight in 1969 and has never won a national championship, is one win away from earning a spot in the BCS title game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans. Before that can happen, though, it must avoid a sixth straight loss to Oklahoma (10-2, 6-2), which beat Missouri 41-31 at home on Oct. 13.
The Sooners defeated Oklahoma State 49-17 last Saturday to win the South Division and secure a spot in the conference title game for the sixth time in eight seasons. Oklahoma will be trying for a league-best fifth Big 12 title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl for the second straight season.
"It's another big challenge, just excited about it," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who is 3-0 versus Missouri with Pinkel as coach. "They're a good team, we recognize that, but we feel that we match up well with them obviously in all parts of the game. That makes it exciting."
The Sooners, though, will likely be in for more of a challenge as they attempt to spoil Missouri's dream season.
The Tigers have won six in a row since the loss to Oklahoma and will have senior running back Tony Temple on the field Saturday. Temple, who rushed for 1,063 yards last season, has missed nearly three full games with a sprained ankle this year, including the Oklahoma game.
Missouri, which committed four turnovers and gave up 18 fourth-quarter points to the Sooners in October, was held to a season-low 57 rushing yards in that loss.
Temple rushed for 98 yards on 22 carries against Kansas and has 732 rushing yards on the season. He's also rushed for five of his eight touchdowns in his last five contests.
"Having Tony back is great," Pinkel said. "We never came out of that game saying we wished we had Tony Temple, we don't do that around here, and other players I thought went in and did a good job. But Tony, he can make a huge impact. There's no question he makes us a better team."
So does quarterback Chase Daniel.
Daniel, who's blossomed into a serious Heisman Trophy contender, was 40-for-49 for 361 yards and three touchdowns versus Kansas. The junior, who has thrown for a career-best 3,951 yards and 33 touchdowns, has 10 TDs and no interceptions in his last three games.
Daniel was solid for the most part against Oklahoma, going 37-for-47 for 361 yards with a touchdown, but also threw a season-high two interceptions.
The Tigers, who have scored 31 or more points in every game, have not turned the ball over in their last two contests and just five times in the six games since losing to Oklahoma.
"For the most part, we just have to go out there and play with confidence that we've had for the past five weeks," Daniel said.
Daniel has only one more touchdown pass than Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, who has thrown for an NCAA freshman-record 32 TDs this season. Bradford broke the mark last Saturday with four touchdown passes as he looked fully recovered from a concussion which knocked him out of the previous week's game.
That 34-27 loss at Texas Tech essentially ended the Sooners' national title hopes, but they bounced back behind the play of Bradford and Allen Patrick.
Patrick rushed for a season-high 202 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma State. The senior running back will look for another big day against Missouri, with starter DeMarco Murray out for a second straight game due to a dislocated kneecap.
Patrick, who has rushed for a team-leading 839 yards and did a fine job filling in when Adrian Peterson was injured last season, has rushed for 201 yards in two games versus Missouri, including 157 on 35 carries in a 26-10 win over the Tigers on Oct. 28, 2006.
Sophomore running back Chris Brown, who ran for three touchdowns against the Tigers this season, also could see more action after rushing for 76 yards and a TD on 19 carries last Saturday.
Oklahoma, though, could be without defensive end Auston English because of a leg injury. English had 1 1/2 sacks and nine tackles versus Missouri.
The Sooners are trying to avoid losing to the Tigers for the first time since 1998, but have a much bigger goal in mind.
"The South trophy is nice, but we want the other one," Stoops said. "To us, that's what matters is the championship."
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