InsideMizzou Viewer's Guide and Prediction

If one game on Missouri's schedule could be described as the proverbial ‘sandwich game,' this is the one. Mizzou has emerged from a three-week stretch of ranked opponents with a 6-1 record, and next week the Tigers make the trip to Colorado to face a team that knocked off Oklahoma at home. Thus, no one is paying much mind to the Cyclones, but then again, that was the case last year as well…

We all know how that turned out.

Mizzou suffered one of the worst losses in head coach Gary Pinkel's tenure a year ago in Ames, losing to a Cyclones team that had been 0-7 in Big 12 play and was playing for a lame duck coach in Dan McCarney. So while the fans may be overlooking ISU – and with a 29-point Vegas spread and a 1-7 opponents, it's difficult to blame them – suffice it to say the players and coaches aren't.

One of the best characteristics of this Mizzou team is its ability to focus on individual tasks without looking too far ahead or dwelling in the past.

"It's a whole different team right now," MU quarterback Chase Daniel said. "It was a weird situation (last year), but we're over it. All that matters right now is this year."

Mizzou Offense vs. Iowa State Defense

Iowa State's defense could become a force under first-year coach Gene Chizik, the former defensive coordinator at Texas. But it's going to take time and talent, neither of which Chizik has been afforded yet. The Cyclones are allowing 37.5 points per game in conference play.

Sure, the Cyclones played over their heads last week in a 17-7 loss to Oklahoma, but consider this: they are letting opposing passers complete 71.5 percent of attempts in conference play, by far the most generous rate in the conference. It would be shocking if Chase Daniel doesn't top the 300-yard, three-touchdown mark with ease.

Here's another frightening thought: Iowa state is allowing Big 12 opponents to convert a whopping 57.4 percent of third downs, while Missouri leads the nation overall by moving the chains 57.1 percent of the time on third downs.

"It's money when you convert on downs like that. Fifty percent is even a high percentage, and we're at fifty-seven," Daniel said.

Mizzou will have to contend with junior linebacker Kurtis Taylor, who is second in the conference with 4.5 sacks.

"We've got to get a pass rush," said Taylor. "We don't want the quarterback to get comfortable and set his feet. We've got to have good coverage. If we do those two things, we can eliminate some of those big plays."

Daniel didn't put up his usual prolific passing statistics last week in the blowout win over Texas tech, mostly because Mizzou's running game was better than it's been all year. Iowa State, meantime, is in the middle of the Big 12 pack in rushing defense.

Starter Tony Temple is expected back from the ankle sprain that cost him the past two games, but his absence may have actually been a boon for the MU running game. Freshman Derrick Washington and senior Jimmy Jackson, who had a career game with three touchdowns against Tech, are both more proving to be reliable options.

"The running back by committee definitely works for us. We know that all those guys can play, and they're starting to play at a high level at the perfect time," Daniel said.

Iowa State Offense vs. Missouri Defense

This game could move at a rapid pace, as it pits against each other the two of the least penalized teams in the Big 12. Iowa State is the least penalized team in the nation, drawing 28 flags for a total of 245 yards in eight games. Mizzou sits third, with just 37 penalties for 254 yards.

To say Iowa State has struggled offensively would be an understatement. Despite having a touted quarterback in senior Bret Meyer, the Cyclones have managed to score a paltry five touchdowns in four conference games – compared to Mizzou's 14 touchdowns in three Big 12 games.

Iowa State has the second-best time of possession in the Big 12, but that may be a bit misleading because the Cyclones' defense has given up a lot of quick scores. Junior running back Jason Scales averages a respectable 80 yards per game in conference play, but on a less than impressive 3.4 yards per run. Meyer has thrown one touchdown and six interceptions in Big 12 competition.

That should spell trouble against a Mizzou defense coming off what Pinkel called one of the best defensive performances in his time here. The Tigers held the nation's leading offense to a total of 10 points. With all the confidence in the world, playing at home for the second week in a row and focused on continuing to prove its defensive presence, Mizzou isn't likely to give up a lot.

Junior R.J. Sumrall is ISU's leading receiver with 367 yards, but hasn't reached the end zone yet. Sophomore Marquis Hamilton could present a challenge for Mizzou. He's a load at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and broke out for 88 yards on seven catches against Oklahoma. He could be guarded by Mizzou defensive back Paul Simpson, who has good size and did an admirable job last week on Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, the nation's leading receiver.

It gets worse for Iowa State, which has a struggling kicker in Brett Culberson, who entered this year as the school's all-time most accurate kicker.

Prediction: This one will be over by halftime. Daniel throws for 380 yards and four touchdowns and Mizzou rolls, 45-10.

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