OSU Offensive Line vs. Missouri Defensive Line (particularly C.J. Mosley and Atiyyah Ellison)
I honestly think the game could be decided here. Missouri is much improved on the defensive line. The two tackles, C.J. Mosley and Atiyyah Ellison, are experienced and thick. The two are right around 6-4 and 300 pounds. Watching them on film, they don't get driven much and they do a great job of gumming up the works inside. On pass rush situations they are athletic for their size and have combined for five sacks.
Xzavie Jackson and Zach Ville are solid at defensive ends for the Tigers, but not as stout as Mosley and Ellison. The best bet for the Cowboys is to run off tackle and try to get around the corner. The Cowboy offensive line of Davis, Mayes, Akin, Curtis or Bond, and Hilliard will have to play one of its best games, and they will do it without David Koenig. The offensive line also has to be alert as Missouri runs a lot of stunts and blitzes. The blitzes are usually linebackers or a safety off the tackle, and they love to twist both sides on stunts. I cannot over emphasize how important this match up is.
Edge: Missouri but just barely
OSU Defensive Front vs. Missouri Offensive Line
The Missouri offensive line is young and getting better, but they are not a great unit by any means. They are not as good as Texas A&M. That said, OSU badly needs to bring up its play on the defensive line and the Cowboys have to do it without the most productive lineman so far this season in freshman defensive end Nathan Peterson, who is out for the rest of the campaign with a torn ACL in his left knee.
The Cowboy coaches made some adjustments this week that could pay big dividends. You should see Brad Girtman back getting into the rotation at tackle and expect Marque Fountain, after a good week of practice, to play an increased role. This really comes down to who wants it more on Saturday.
Edge: OSU but just barely
OSU Tight Ends vs. Missouri Linebackers and Safeties
Over the last two weeks Billy Bajema and Charlie Johnson have surfaced to be quarterback Donovan Woods security blanket in the passing game – as I suspected they would be at the start of the season. Yes, the Cowboys need to complete some big plays in the passing game at Missouri, but throws to the tight ends are always a good option. These two will also need to have one of their better blocking games. We have already said the middle will be hard to crack, but off-tackle and around the corner are good options. Bajema and Johnson are just the guys to get that corner sealed and give Vernand Morency an opportunity to get around and then downfield.
OSU Secondary vs. Missouri QB Brad Smith and Receivers (especially Sean Coffey)
Yes, Missouri has a significant offensive package that puts Brad Smith in the shotgun and the rest of the Tiger offense in a spread formation. Seeing that look might give the Cowboys nightmares. Then again, maybe it won't as the Cowboy defense had a thorough going over at defending this attack with a proper cushion from the defensive backs. Missouri is more of a mirror of the Cowboys in formation. They prefer pro personnel in an I-formation, often double tight ends, and multiple in running and passing.
Smith will make a few mistakes in the passing game as he is not on the same plane right now with A&M's Reggie McNeal. The tight ends, Rucker and Sesay, are good receivers that the secondary will have to be on top of. However, the real big play man is Sean Coffey, a 6-5, 220-pounder who can fly. He must be accounted for and guarded to avoid big plays that could not only help Missouri, but seize momentum and really excite the crowd. Coffey is a bad match up for just about anybody in the OSU secondary.
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