Ranked Team Battle; #19 Oklahoma at #23 Missouri
Missing arguably its top defensive player, Missouri needs its offense to keep coming up big.
The 19th-ranked Sooners hope their rejuvenated defense continues making up for the absence of Adrian Peterson in a Big 12 matchup Saturday with the high-powered offense of the No. 23 Tigers, who won’t have sack specialist Brian Smith.
Oklahoma lost its Heisman Trophy hopeful and a player who has run for nearly 4,000 yards in his college career when Peterson broke his collarbone in the fourth quarter of a 34-9 victory over Iowa State on Oct. 14.
The following week, the Sooners (5-2, 2-1) faced a Colorado team which had reached at least 30 points and 350 yards of offense in back-to-back games. Oklahoma, though, limited the Buffaloes to 113 total yards and five first downs in a 24-3 victory.
“We’re playing better,” said linebacker Rufus Alexander, who led the Sooners with 11 tackles. “You can say we’re putting it together. I’d just say everybody’s starting to do their jobs.”
While Oklahoma allows 267.4 yards per game to rank 12th nationally in total defense, Missouri (7-1, 3-1) is 14th in total offense with 419.5 yards per contest.
Tigers sophomore quarterback Chase Daniel is eighth in the country with 2,003 passing yards. He’s tied for eighth with 19 touchdown passes, eclipsing the single-season school record held by Terry McMillan, who had 18 in 1969 – the last time the Tigers were 7-1.
“I think this year we are slowly starting to get a little more respect,” Missouri offensive lineman Tyler Luellen said. “Going out and beating Oklahoma would open eyes for other people and then maybe give us some more respect then.”
Daniel, who has only five interceptions and has completed 66.8 percent of his passes, faces a Sooners squad which has given up 200 yards passing only once all season.
“They’re playing well,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of his defense. “The communication’s better.”
Missouri’s defense suffered a devastating blow in last Saturday’s 41-21 win over Kansas State, with Smith breaking his right hip. The senior defensive end, who is likely to miss the rest of the regular season, has 7 1/2 sacks this season to rank fifth in the country and is Missouri’s all-time leader with 31 1/2.
“He just kind of turned and kind of stumbled,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “There was not hardly any contact at all. It was just as freakish as you could ever imagine.”
Smith’s absence is a good break for Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson, who is facing more of the offensive burden with Peterson sidelined. Thompson was not particularly impressive in his first game without the star runner as he threw for a season-low 105 yards against Colorado, but the senior did complete 17 of 26 passes with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Allen Patrick had a decent showing last week starting in place of Peterson with 110 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries. The junior had only 62 yards on 18 carries in his other four games this year.
“When I was going out there on the field, I just had my mind set to go out there and give punishment, to let them know I’m on the field, to let me go out there and get my name known,” Patrick said.
Oklahoma has won the last three meetings with Missouri and has a 61-21-5 lead in the series, though the teams have not met since 2003.
by: Anthony White – theSpread.com – Email Us
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