Gut check time for Tigers

With the Nebraska honeymoon over, Missouri could prove a lot more in the next two weeks. As Tom writes, we'll find out just exactly how tough Missouri will be once they've played Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Obviously, Gary Pinkel was going to change something.

He had seen the Tigers play the way they did against Kansas too much. He had seen that false hope of a good half, a good three quarters that eventually leads to yet another loss. He had seen enough.

Because, obviously, Gary Pinkel isn't a very patient man. And those 4-7 and 5-7 records the last two seasons? Well, those just weren't going to fly anymore.

So Pinkel did his best Bob Stoops impression, going to the far extremes of the playbook for a reverse kick return, a throwback pass and a fake field goal. And they all worked in some way to lead Missouri to a 41-24 win against Nebraska. This time, the hope is very genuine.

"I told my wife the other night, I'm tired of watching other people upsetting people," Pinkel said. "I told some of my friends, some of them who are here right now, our program, we're going to start beating some people. I was getting tired. I was really, really frustrated because I'm not very patient."

Pinkel's patience, though, could be tested soon, because here comes the kicker: in the next two games, Missouri will face the No. 1 team in the country and the No. 1 passer in the country.

That's right, after heading to No. 1 Oklahoma this week, the Tigers will host B.J. Symons and Texas Tech in the annual Homecoming game.

Talk about a gut check.

The next two weeks will show what these Tigers are about more than any game Missouri has played this season. Sure, the Nebraska game ended one of the ugliest streaks in sports, but those ‘Huskers hadn't beaten anyone except for Oklahoma State. In addition, Missouri had two weeks to prepare, and the Tigers were obviously better prepared last Saturday.

These Oklahoma Sooners have played some people. Every team on Oklahoma's non-conference schedule went to a bowl game last season, and the Sooners have had only one close game, and by close game I mean within 20 points. Last Saturday, they beat Texas 65-13.

Take some time and look at that score again.

Umm, yeah, they're pretty good.

Then comes Texas Tech, which has been passing like it's going out of style, and doing it well. Quarterback B.J. Symons has gone from unknown to Heisman candidate, putting up numbers previously unheard of. That offense goes against the Missouri secondary, whose best game is against Kansas, and well, everyone's tried their hardest to forget that one.

I'm sorry, but allowing only 146 passing yards on only 19 attempts to Nebraska's Jammal Lord is not a great achievement. It just isn't. The Missouri secondary has had several problems, including only one interception.

So perhaps nothing looks good for those Tigers in the next two weeks, but this feeling is very familiar. Oh that's right, Missouri had this feeling only a week ago, with the No. 1 defense coming to town carrying a 24-game winning streak against them.

But those pesky Tigers came right back and found a way to beat Nebraska. They came back to dominate the fourth-quarter, their best friend before the loss to Kansas. They found a way to win.

Had Missouri lost that game, no one would have been surprised. It wouldn't have made a ripple in any kind of national radar. But for Pinkel, it wasn't only about only winning the ones he should win, especially after losing to Kansas. He just didn't have the kind of patience for that. He turned impatience into a virtue.

In the next two weeks, it's time to see exactly how impatient Pinkel can be.


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