The Missouri offense revolves around quarterback Brad Smith, currently the most prolific run-pass quarterback in the nation. Smith needs 582 yards to break the Missouri career rushing mark. Pinkel is determined to turn Smith into a pocket passer this year, mostly because teams scheme to keep him there in the first place. He's completed 57 percent of his throws so far, and is far and away a better passer than former Big 12 dual-threat QBs Ell Roberson and Jamaal Lord.
Helping Smith this year is an improved receiving corps, led by 6-foot-5 junior Sean Coffey. Mizzou also uses its tight end in the passing game, and senior Victor Sesay, all 6-6, 270 pounds of him, has 12 catches, two for touchdowns.
Mizzou will run their offense out of the shotgun formation, and give the ball to tailback Damien Nash out of that formation. They also like to run a ball-fake, and will look to throw to Nash (9 catches).
Player to watch: Senior wide receiver Thomson Omboga nearly went to CU out of high school, but chose the Tigers. He needs four catches to reach 100 for his career. He's also taken over the punt return duties lately, and averages 18.7 yards per return, second in the Big 12.
KEYS for COLORADO
How to defend Smith
Colorado can't overpursue the deceptively strong Smith. CU will try and keep Smith in the pocket and make him beat them with the pass. If he does get out of the pocket, Colorado DBs can't get sucked in to the scramble, because he'll make them pay.
CU corner Lorenzo Sims says, "A guy that runs like Brad Smith, when he gets out of the pocket, a route can change. (The mU receivers) know after a couple of seconds if the ball isn't in the air, they know he's running, and I'm running right along with the receivers."
CU D-line coach Chris Wilson says, "We can't get caught up in the Brad Smith show. We've got to be fundamentally sound. Like last week (against UNT), there were a lot of things that if we just execute we're just playing North Texas, not Colorado and North Texas. That's what we've got to do, we've got to play with technique.
"You've got to contain a guy like that, but he's going to make plays. He's a great player. We'll have a good scheme cooked up. We've just got to go execute it."
DEFENSE Junior DT C.J. Mosley, at 6-3, 305, is an all-conference candidate, as is his counterpart on the inside, DT Atiyyah Ellison (6-4, 300). They've combined for 41 tackles. CU had trouble running up the middle on MU last season.
Player to watch: Junior FS Jason Simpson likes to come up and pressure on the run. He's got 4 TFL and a sack and leads the team with 27 tackles, 14 solo.
KEYS for COLORADO
Set up the run? Set up the pass?
Colorado may be able to run outside if the CU tackles and tight ends can seal Missouri's edges, and the wide outs block well.
Quarterback Joel Klatt says CU will need to run to set up the pass, which is the conventional wisdom here. Don't be surprised, however, if Colorado comes out throwing short slants right out of the gate. If Colorado does get its run game churning, look for the Buffs to try and hit some big plays to their receivers deep if the MU safeties begin cheating toward the line of scrimmage.
MU STATISTICAL LEADERS
Passing: Brad Smith, 57-100/670, 6 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Damien Nash, 46-264/5.7, 5 TD
Receiving: Sean Coffey, 13-200/15.4, 2 TD
Kickoff returns: Sirdonya Mitchell, 3-53/17.7
Punt returns: Thomson Omboga, 7-131/18.7
Punting: Brock Harvey, 13-562/43.2
Tackles: Jason Simpson, 27
Tackles for loss: C.J. Mosley, 6-31
Sacks: C.J. Mosley, 3-23
Interceptions: Phil Pitts, 1-49
NOTES:Missouri remains the only Big 12 North team Gary Barnett hasn't lost to since becoming head coach at CU in 1999. The Buffs are 5-0 vs. Barnett's alma mater under his watch. …Mizzou is riding an eight-game win streak at "The Zou," Faurot Field. Kansas State (2002) is the last team to beat the Tigers in Columbia. …Missouri is second in the Big 12 in third-down conversions (47.6 percent), and third in defending third-down conversions (26.2).