White, Sooners pack a big punch

Missouri's faced a couple big-time quarterbacks, but none with the Heisman power of Jason White, who has recovered from knee surgery to lead the Sooners to a 6-0 record and the No. 1 spot in both polls. The Tigers talk about the challenge of playing a team with great defense and a great offense as they head to Norman for Saturday's game.

Missouri free safety thought he had seen enough of Jason White. He was wrong.

As a cornerback at John Marshall high in Oklahoma City, Williams played against White, who is from Tuttle, Okla., in a summer league.

"He was a big guy with a strong arm," Williams said. "He almost broke my fingers when I tried to deflect the ball."

White certainly hasn't gotten worse since. After two years struggling through ACL injuries, White has been tearing through defenses, leading the Oklahoma offense to 47.7 points per game.

"For him to come off of surgery and to be able to maintain himself the way he has, that shows the kind of leader he is and the kind of mindset he has," Williams said. "That's what you can tell with this offense. They're composed, they're not rattled easily, and that's because he's behind center now."

Williams will get his shot at the improved White and the Sooners when No. 24 Missouri plays at No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game is being televised nationally on Fox Sports Net.

The Sooners (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) entered the season with that same old Oklahoma defense, and that defense hasn't let them down, giving up only 14.7 points a game and only 259 yards a game, good for third in the nation. But the Sooner offense has surprised many, especially after beating Texas 65-13.

That's right. 65-13.

"I couldn't believe that man," Missouri center A.J. Ricker said. "That was pretty crazy. We're gonna have to be ready."

Missouri (5-1, 1-1) took on the then-No. 1 defense in the nation last Saturday against Nebraska and came out with 452 yards and a 41-24 win. The Tigers' fourth-quarter comeback, though, heavily relied on stopping Nebraska's run-heavy offense, and the Cornhuskers couldn't get back once Missouri went ahead.

It won't be that easy against the Sooners.

"Yeah, we can't had a sad third quarter like we had against Nebraska," defensive end Russ Bell said. "We have to put four quarters together. They seem to make a couple extra opportunities. They always find a way, and they're a great team. It looks like a pro team out there. They're No. 1, and there's a reason for that."

White has an almost ridiculous quarterback rating of 180.22, best in the nation. He has completed 69 percent of his passes for almost 300 yards a game with 20 touchdowns. He is at or near the top of most Heisman lists.

Missouri quarterback Brad Smith started slowly this season, but he picked up steam last week against Nebraska with 350 total yards and four touchdowns, a team record. Oklahoma doesn't have to look too far to find what Smith can do: he torched the Sooners for 391 total yards, including 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

"He does a great job of running with the football and throws it well, also," Stoops said. "Overall, you don't have to invent a new defense, but, as much as anything, you have to tackle better and support the quarterback run game better."

Missouri led that game with seven minutes left, but a fake field goal touchdown pass, eerily similar to the one the Tigers pulled on Nebraska last Saturday, gave then-No. 3 Oklahoma a 31-24 win at Memorial Stadium.

Oklahoma's defense, though, has looked even tougher than last year. Linebacker Teddy Lehman is the heart of the defense with 47 tackles, including five for loss, and an interception. Free safety Brodney Pool has four interceptions, and defensive backs Derrick Strait and Brandon Everage combine for 61 tackles. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris was an All-American last season.

Oklahoma is a great football team," Pinkel said. "One of the first things we always do is look at personnel to find out any weaknesses. There are always one or two or three players that might be vulnerable, but they have players playing at a high level at absolutely every position offensively and defensively."

Missouri broke a 45-game streak of losing to top 10 teams last Saturday, and against Oklahoma, it could break another streak. Missouri is 0-10 all-time against top-ranked teams, and Gary Pinkel is 0-1.

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