COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -Instead of watching television in the locker room, Missouri players can only gaze at a sign covering the screen that reminds them: 2 p.m. Saturday vs. Baylor.
``We've got TVs, but no station is up,'' defensive lineman Ziggy Hood said. ``All you see is the time and the date of the game.''
It's coach Gary Pinkel's way of combatting distractions, real or imagined, he feels have led to a midseason slump that knocked Missouri out of national title contention.
He can't control them 24 hours a day, but he would like them to ignore family and friends who tell them the road to a Big 12 championship berth remains clear, avoid surfing the Internet for opinions and - perhaps most of all - not pay a lick of attention to TV prognosticating.
The coach blames a lack of focus for a two-game stretch in which the 14th-ranked Tigers (6-2, 2-2 Big 12) squandered a chance to grab the top ranking and lost in consecutive weeks to Oklahoma State and No. 1 Texas.
kel said. ``People say 'Why do you put the team up (in a hotel) the night before the game?' Because players have got to get their minds right, so they don't get hurt.''
Or whipped, as was the case when Texas ran up 35 points before halftime in a 56-31 victory.
Playing one game at a time may be one of the oldest cliches in the coaching manual - but at Missouri it's truly become a way of life.
``You've got to have distraction control,'' defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. ``There's positive things out there, there's negative things out there, and it really doesn't matter relative to what we're doing right now.''
Tailback Derrick Washington said Pinkel might be onto something.
``People were believing in the hype, and not really focusing on what we had to do,'' Washington said. ``Stuff got out of hand and we lost a couple of games, but that's behind us now.''
All-American wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who leads the nation in all-purpose yardage, doesn't think his play has been affected. He believes he can watch ESPN pre-game programming and take it for what it's worth.
``It's how you practice, video study, and just staying focused,'' Maclin said. ``Personally, I don't think it had much of an effect on me. But it's bigger than me, we lost the ballgames.''
Players got the message, responding with a 58-0 whitewash of Colorado behind a revitalized offense and a surprisingly stingy defense. The shutout was Missouri's first since 2004 and its first shutout over a conference opponent since 1986 in the old Big Eight.
``Guys know what it takes now,'' Maclin said. ``There's not going to be any more slip-ups.''
Instead of watching football, Hood relaxed while soaking up bass fishing techniques in the hours before the Colorado game.
``It's the first time I watched fishing in a while,'' Hood said. ``You knew what you had to do because you had a good week, and you have to take time to relax and think a little before you go out there and battle.''
Hood agrees with Pinkel that the team lacked focus, especially against the Longhorns.
``I felt there was a little slacking in preparation and focusing,'' Hood said. ``Your Sundays are a whole lot better waking up knowing you did your job right.''
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