On Saturday (11:30 A.M., FSN), the #14 Missouri Tigers (9-2, 5-2) and the Kansas Jayhawks (3-8, 1-6) face off at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, for their annual border showdown. Missouri leads in the all-time series, with a 55-54-9 advantage. Missouri is coming off of a 14-0 shutout of Iowa State.
The Tigers just recorded their second shutout of the season, this one on the road, despite playing without three key defensive players, Dominique Hamilton, Will Ebner, and the recently suspended Jasper Simmons. The shutouts are signatory of Missouri's defense this year, as the Tigers lead the Big 12 (7th NCAA) in scoring defense (15.91 points/game). The Tigers also lead the conference (2nd NCAA) in red zone defense, where Missouri allows opponents to score just 53% of the time, once they're inside the 20-yard line. Missouri also leads the Big 12 (7th NCAA) in sacks (3 sacks/game), and are second in the conference (13th NCAA) in turnover margin (+0.91 turnovers/game).
Missouri ranks well nationally (13th) in net punting (38.87 yards/punt), but that's only good enough for 4th in the Big 12.
Blaine Gabbert's completion percentage has fallen off to 62%, but his 10.55 yards/completion is still very good. Gabbert is taking good care of the football, at least through the air, as he has thrown an interception only once every 78 pass attempts.
Missouri has gone to the ground more in the last couple of weeks, and it's paid off. On the season, Blaine Gabbert has rushed the football for an average of 3.46 yards/carry, and his back-up, James Franklin has rushed for an average of 5.2 yards/carry. Combined, Missouri's QBs have averaged 3.85 yards/carry on the ground. Missouri's TB by committee, including De'Vion Moore (5.4 yards/carry), Henry Josey (5.6 yards/carry), Kendial Lawrence (5.4 yards/carry), and Marcus Murphy (9.4 yards/carry), have rushed for a combined 1300 yards, and 5.78 yards/carry.
With Nebraska's win on Friday over Colorado, Missouri is no longer in the running for the conference championship, but there's still plenty to play for, including the Tigers' third 10-win season in just the last four years. And, a 10th win would give this year's senior class 40 wins over the last four years, adding to their school record.
Of course, it's Kansas, and no one needs additional motivation to get ready to play the Jayhawks. It's a given that Kansas will play their best game, and Coach Pinkel has repeatedly stated this week that he wants his Tigers to play their best game.
"You inherit this rivalry when you come to Mizzou as a player or a coach," explained Coach Pinkel. "It's one of the great rivalries of college football. I've said this every year. You can throw the records out. It means so much to each team and it certainly means so much to our fans. We'll get KU's best effort and their best football game because that's what that does. Hopefully, we can prepare well and give our best also."