Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #6

#6.) Missouri

What You Need to Know: If 2008 turns out anything like 2007, most Missouri fans will be completely happy. Facing intense pressure and expectations after last year's 12-2 campaign, which featured a #1 ranking and a chance to play for the national title, Missouri seems primed for another Big 12 North title, and a shot at a BCS bowl.

Who's back? Chase Daniel, the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year last season, a Heisman finalist, and a second-team All American. Daniel has some holes to fill on offense, as the line lost two starters and wide out Will Franklin. The players vying to replace Franklin are fortunate to have a system and a QB that makes wide outs look phenomenal. An overlooked loss for the Tigers is RB Tony Temple. The 1000+ yard back finished the year with 12 TD, and while not an overwhelming superstar, he was a serviceable back that prevented defenses from simply keying on Daniel and the pass.

Defensively, the Tigers return 10 starters from their Cotton Bowl winning squad last year, but the loss of nose tackle Lorenzo Williams will be felt. The Tigers have a very favorable out of conference schedule, and play two critical games at neutral sites, Illinois in St. Louis (their season opener) and Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Chase Daniel: 4306 yds, 33 TD
WR Jeremy Maclin: 80 rec, 1055 yds, 9 TD
DT Ziggy Hood: 49 tkls, 8 TFL, 5 sacks

Game To Watch: The season-opener against Illinois will be a shootout and will be a large victory for Mizzou. However, the game is out of conference, early enough to be able to rebound should they lose, and on a neutral site. The big game for this team is at Texas on October 18. It will tell you whether or not this team has a shot at winning the entire Big 12.

They'll Do Well If...: As Daniel and the defense go, so go the Tigers. Daniel gets hurt, and this team is in trouble. They'll be fine if he stays healthy, the defense performs even remotely well, and they find a manageable replacement at RB.

Season Outlook: There is absolutely no reason why the Tigers can't run the table on their schedule. Winning against both Kansas and Texas (their two toughest games) will be challenging but possible. Most likely they will meet Oklahoma again in the Big 12 title game, and it very well could be for a national title berth. Expect Daniel to turn heads, be a contender for the Heisman Trophy, and the Tigers to again finish the year in the Top 5 with an 11-1 regular season record heading into the Big 12 Championship.

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