On Saturday the Missouri Tigers (3-4 overall, 2-3 big 12) travel to Boulder, Colorado to take on the University of Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffaloes are 6-2 this year and ranked 25in both the Coaches Poll, and the Associated Press Poll. The Buffaloes are coming off a victory over Big 12 foe Oklahoma State 22-19 in Stillwater. The Tigers lead the all-time series 35-27-3, but have lost the last two games. Last year the Tigers lost to Colorado 28-18. In that game, the Mizzou offensive line yielded a Big 12 record 14 quarterback sacks. Supermizzou columnist Mike Morgan gives you his keys to a victory over the Buffaloes on Saturday.
1. The Tigers all-American candidate, Justin Gage versus the Buffs secondary.
Colorado's coach Gary Barnett said "He (Gage) maybe one of the best in the Big 12." The Buffaloes defense gives up an average of 207-yards passing a game. The Buffaloes have four players in the secondary injured and senior safety Robbie Robinson will be playing with a cast on his hand. The other players injured are Phil Jackson, Terrance Wood, and Clyde Surell. The Tiger quarterbacks must produce more than they did last week against Texas. Coach Pinkel said that the status of Kirk Farmer may not be known until Saturday. "He (Farmer) has a bruised lower back," Pinkel said. "He's feeling better daily, but we're just not sure. It might clear up by tomorrow, it might not clear up at all." If Farmer can not go Darius Outlaw will step in and take over as the starter. Whoever plays they will have to be able to move the team effectively through the air.
2. Colorado's injuries.
Colorado is banged up at several key positions. In the first half of last week's game against the Cowboys they had 15 guys injured. Starting quarterback Craig Ochs will most likely miss the game with an ankle and a foot injury and will only maybe be used as an emergency third string quarterback. All four defensive backfield players have broken hands and are all wearing some type of casts.
3. Mizzou's special teams containing Colorado's return specialist.
Roman Hollowell, who is ranked second nationally in punt returns, at almost 20 yards a return will have to be contained if the Tigers want a victory. Hollowell who has returned one punt for a touchdown is easily one of the most exciting players in the game today. Tiger punter Brock Harvey will have to keep the ball away from Hollowell, and if he has to kick it to him get some good hang time on to give his gunners time to cover the kick.
4. Tiger's running game against Colorado's running game.
Colorado averages 210.3-yards per game and they only give up 101.7-yards rushing. Tiger running back Zack Abron has had three straight 100-yard rushing games to his credit and the Mizzou offensive line has performed well over the past four weeks. Colorado's two top running backs did not practice much this week, but both are expected to play.
5. Offensive Line revenging there performance from last year.
Last year against the Buffaloes the Tiger's offensive line gave up a Big 12 record 14 sacks. Six of the sacks came in the fourth quarter to seal the fate of the Tigers. The offensive line has been one of the most consistent squads on the team this year. The o-line has only yielded six sacks the whole season. The balanced Tiger attack will attack the secondary of Colorado at times, so the offensive line will have to give Mizzou's quarterbacks time to throw the ball effectively.
6. Playing on the road.
The Tigers are 2-0 on the road in the Big 12 this season, and will play in Folsom Stadium in front of a large crowd. Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett said, "We need the fans to come out and give us all they got to help win this game." The game again this week will not be televised and can only be heard on the radio.
7. Winning the turnover game.
The game within the game that has haunted Mizzou at several key moments this season is making the critical turnover, instead of causing the critical turnover from the opponent. All facets of the offense and special teams will need to take care of the ball and play smart football. The defense needs to create more turnovers than it has so far this season. While Mizzou's defense has played well for the most part, it has been anemic in the area of creating turnovers.
8. Protect against the big Colorado plays.
Colorado has shown big strike capabilities this season, but hasn't shown the consistent ability to go on long, sustained offensive marches. Missouri will have its best chance at success in this contest if it makes Colorado march the length of the field to score its points.