What to look for: Ball State

The Tigers still had a lot of question marks after Saturday's 22-15 win against Illinois. Against Ball State, they get a chance to answer them. Here are five things to look for in Saturday's game.

1) A field goal

The Tigers didn't attempt any against Illinois, partly because they scored every time they were in the red zone, and partly because their offense didn't move the ball well. Either way, the kicker position is still a huge question mark. The "or" was taken off the depth chart between Mike Matheny and Alex Petterson, which means Matheny is the kicker for now. Matheny made all of his extra points against Illinois, and celebrated like he had made 50-yard field goals. Each has had confidence problems in the past, so a field goal against Ball State wouldn't hurt to see where the position stands.

2) Damien Nash

If you ask Gary Pinkel, Nash only received one carry last Saturday because he hadn't played football in two years, and Pinkel tried to keep out as many inexperienced players as possible. If you ask offensive coordinator Dave Christenson, Nash didn't play because of the way the team set up its rotations. Pinkel's reason is more believable: Missouri had to reduce its question marks in such a big game. Either way, expect to see Nash more, especially if the Tigers jump out to a lead. The offense gets predictable with Abron out there.

3) A deep pass

There's no doubt about it: the Tigers will have to throw deep to win in the Big 12. Even though no one will say it, these next three or four games are a great opportunity for the Tigers to practice in game situations in throwing the ball deep. It was understandable against Illinois to play small ball because it vastly reduced the mistakes. The Tigers didn't have one turnover. Against Ball State, though, Missouri needs to show it can throw deep so that it doesn't get smothered by defenses closing in on the line.

4) An interception

Andy Roesch doesn't know what he's getting into. The Tiger defense showed its quickness on Saturday, even if it gave up 411 yards. Pinkel said he purposely had the defense play back to keep the ball in front, and it worked. Don't expect the same kind of cushion for a quarterback who only threw for 149 yards a game last season. Roesch is not Jon Beutjer, so look for at least one Tiger defensive back to show him.

5) Confidence

The win against Illinois was huge for these players. Most of the players on the defense had never started before, especially Brian Smith, Zach Ville and Dedrick Harrington. Each had great moments last Saturday. On offense, that 78-yard winning drive can't help but show the players what they can do. Don't expect them to overlook Ball State, but don't expect the Tigers to fold either.

Prediction: Missouri 38, Ball State 7

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