Seeking Nine Wins

Quarterback Chase Daniel has led Missouri to its highest ranking in 28 years, but the team is still looking up in the Big 12 standings.

The seventh-ranked Tigers look to reach the nine-win mark for the first time in 38 years when they meet struggling Texas A&M and embattled coach Dennis Franchione on Saturday in their final home game of the season.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Missouri -19.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 84% of bets for this game have been placed on Missouri -19.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Missouri (8-1, 4-1) scored 48 unanswered points in routing Colorado 55-10 last Saturday to win in Boulder for the first time since 1997. The Tigers moved up two spots in the latest AP Poll for their highest ranking since the 1979 team was No. 5.

Missouri is also a school-best sixth in the BCS standings.

"It's huge," said Daniel, who threw for a career-best 421 yards and tied a school record with five touchdowns last Saturday. "It was good to come out here and win a game, the first time since '97. We've been breaking down barriers and that was one of them.

"It's the next step to the Big 12 championship."

The Tigers are one-game back of Big 12 North-leading Kansas, which is unbeaten and ranked fifth in the nation. Missouri and the Jayhawks meet at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 24, but Tigers coach Gary Pinkel doesn't want his players looking ahead to that game.

"Let the fans do that," Daniel said. "I'm sure it's fun for them to get a matchup like that. But Texas A&M is a great team and we're going to have our hands full."

Franchione has his hands full as he's been dodging questions about his future and saying reports he was negotiating a contract buyout were untrue.

"I am not going to get into the rumor game with you guys," Franchione said during his weekly news conference Tuesday. "There are no facts to that and I'm not into it. I'm sorry that you guys have to deal with it."

Franchione's teams have fallen behind the Big 12's elite squads, and last month he was caught giving inside information to boosters who paid $1,200 to get it in e-mailed newsletters.

"You want to talk about Missouri, you want to talk about the games, I'm willing to sit here with you," he said. "You guys go ahead and speculate on all the other things. That is not my concern at this point in time."

Franchione needs to be concerned with Daniel, who was 21-of-29 for 295 yards and a touchdown in Missouri's 25-19 road loss to Texas A&M last Oct. 14.

Daniel, who was named Big 12 offensive player of the week after his performance against the Buffaloes, is second in the conference in passing yards (2,954) and third in touchdown passes (23).

Daniel leads an offense that is eighth in the nation in scoring, averaging 42 points. Missouri is outscoring opponents by 30 points during its three-game winning streak, which has come after a 41-31 loss at No. 4 Oklahoma on Oct. 13.

Junior tight end Chase Coffman caught three of Daniel's TD passes last Saturday, giving him 19 for his three-year career. Coffman surpassed the school record of 18 set by wide receiver Justin Gage from 1999-2002.

Redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclin also had a record-setting performance against Colorado, gaining 187 all-purpose yards. His 1,682 yards on the year broke the single-season school record of 1,621 set by Devin West in 1998.

The Tigers are looking for some more history, as they try to notch nine victories for the fourth time and first since 1969. The 1899 team also won nine games, while the 1960 squad won a school-record 10.

Missouri has won all five of its home games, and has not finished a season undefeated in Columbia since going 7-0 in 2003. The Tigers have won 14 of their last 15 at Memorial Stadium, and have not lost to Texas A&M at home since a 51-41 defeat on Nov. 13, 1999.

The Aggies (6-4, 3-3) have lost the first two games in a stretch of four straight against ranked opponents to close out the regular season.

After losing to Kansas 19-11 on Oct. 27, they fell 42-14 at Oklahoma last Saturday. Texas A&M hosts No. 15 Texas next week.

"They need to feel the pain of this loss," Franchione said after last Saturday's defeat. "We've had two tough ones back-to-back here and I think these guys feel like they can still win these last two games, and that's the key part of it right there."

Quarterback Stephen McGee ran for a team-high 71 yards against the Sooners, and leads Texas A&M with 793 yards on the ground this season.

McGee directs the Aggies' triple-option offense, which ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 228.3 yards. Texas A&M, though, has gained just 202 yards on the ground in its last two games.

Missouri has the fourth-best rushing defense in the league, allowing 117.1 yards, and held the Buffaloes to 84 yards on 30 carries last Saturday.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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