It's pretty clear that Tiger quarterback Brad Smith is being coached to pass first and run second this season, which should come as a surprise figuring he's proven to be a far superior rusher over his years. Smith completed just 15-of-40 pass attempts for 262 yards in a blowout loss to Kansas last weekend, and hasn't completed more than 50 percent of his passes in any one game for over a month.
What must the Cyclones do to continue this trend? They must keep Smith contained in the pocket, and not let him play to his strength by getting outside the tackles. If the junior quarterback does get outside the tackles, he becomes a dangerous threat that ISU will need to account for.
Defensive ends Tyson Smith, Shawn Moorehead, and Cephus Johnson have to do their part by holding the edge, and Tim Dobbins will need to play smart in not getting himself out of position. If they can apply pressure to Smith and collapse the pocket around him, the Cyclones will have done their job.
Another hundred for Hicks
Mizzou's pass defense, and improved defense as a whole, has gotten plenty of headlines this week. ISU's rushing attack, which has produced three 100-yard games from Stevie Hicks in the last five games, will need to keep up the production.
A ball-control offense that doesn't turn the ball over will be the way to go, as Mizzou's defense has picked off 14 passes this season and broken up 36 more balls. The Tigers are also getting a great deal of pressure on opposing offensive fronts, recording 21 sacks and 94 tackles-for-loss in 10 games.
That could be bad news for a Cyclone unit that has surrendered a near-Big 12 worst 30 sacks on the season. In order to take pressure off of Bret Meyer and company, ISU will need to be efficient on the ground.
Give ‘em reasons to doubt
The Cyclones didn't do a good enough job of this last week, waiting until the final quarter to put Kansas State away. Dan McCarney's squad would like to get off to a better start this week to instill some doubt in an opponent playing its final game of the season.
Missouri is in the midst of a five-game winning streak and hasn't won since the second week of October when it beat lowly Baylor in Waco. Just how bad has it been for the Tigers? On Senior Day in Columbia, with a chance at postseason play and clinging to Big 12 North title hopes, Gary Pinkel's team laid an egg against heated rival Kansas. The Tigers faced a 31-0 deficit before scoring two meaningless touchdowns late.
That would be the perfect scenario for an Iowa State team searching for its first divisional title since 1912. Any kind of double-digit first half lead would give the Tigers plenty of reasons to pack it in for the winter.