Monthly Archives: October 2010

Mizzou/Oklahoma Predictions Revisited

The hype was insane. ESPN’s College Gameday was broadcasting live from Columbia, Missouri where the school that invented homecoming was hosting the #1 team in the BCS standings with thousands of alumni in town. People were tabbing Saturday’s match-up as the biggest game ever at Faurot Field. Mizzou and Oklahoma were both 6-0 overall and unbeaten within the conference.

Mizzou fans rush the field after a 36-27 win

The Sooners ascended to the top spot in the BCS standings by getting through a tough non-conference schedule unscathed and winning their first two Big 12 games. They had close calls against Utah State, Air Force and Cincinnati, but ultimately pulled each game out in the end. The offense looked elite, but the defense proved somewhat susceptible when attacked through the air.

Mizzou enjoyed a softer non-conference schedule, surviving their only scare against San Diego State, by getting a late 68-yard touchdown catch-and-run by TJ Moe. The shutout Colorado in their Big 12 opener and handled Texas A&M on the road in all facets of the game. They ran the ball, passed the ball and showed off a revamped defense that allowed only a field goal and a garbage time touchdown.

Even though OU had been scared a few times, the national perception was the Oklahoma was still a much better overall team than the Tigers and the predictions leading up to the game supported that sentiment. I thought that given the Tigers 36-27 win over their crimson nemesis, I’d take a look back at what certain members of the media thought would happen. Lee Corso made the most visible pick of the game by tossing aside the Mizzou helmet in favor of the Boomer Sooner head, but here’s what several other media members believed would transpire on Faurot Field Saturday night.

David Ubben (ESPN Big 12 blogger)
I took Oklahoma, 31-27. I think Missouri opens up an early lead, but Oklahoma wears them down with the running game. Big, big game for DeMarco Murray.

Missouri did indeed open up an early lead, taking the opening kickoff 86 yards to the house, but the eventualy drop-off that Mr. Ubben predicted never happened. Mizzou’s offense was relentless and the defense didn’t give up a drive of longer than 15 yards in the fourth quarter. Mizzou was the team that took control late in the game and wore the Sooners down with the running, outscoring OU 16-6 in the final frame.

Toby Williams (Oklahoma blogger)
Missouri is playing well, but I don’t think Blaine Gabbert has seen anything close to the speed he will see from the OU defense on Saturday. I think he’ll throw one to the wrong team early. OU 24, Mizzou 17

Toby made it seem like Oklahoma’s speed on defense was elite and a potential obstacle for Blaine Gabbert and the Tiger offense. The same defense that gave up 341 yards in the air to Utah State. Gabbert was masterful in this game, throwing for over 300 yards without a turnover.

ESPN Insider
The Tigers offense won’t scare the Sooners with its short passing game and smoke and mirrors running attack. OU will drop 7 or 8 defenders into coverage all game, limiting YAC and forcing Gabbert into some bad decisions by taking away his primary targets. Stoops has owned Missouri during his career and this week will be no different. OU 31, Mizzou 20

ESPN Insider offers a lot of neat things, but this preview wasn’t one of them. The “smoke and mirrors” running attack gashed the OU defense 178 yards and allowed Mizzou to control the time of possession and opened up passing lanes for the air game. The Sooners did manage to limit Mizzou’s top two receivers, as TJ Moe and Michael Egnew combined for 10 catches, but just 44 yards. But Gabbert had plenty of time to throw and delivered the ball on target again and again, hitting eight other receivers besides Egnew and Moe. Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp combined for 13 catches and 210 yards. This past week was a heckuva lot different than past matchups.

Gerald McCoy (former OU tackle and current Tampa Bay Bucs DT)
It’s a given that OU will win. The reason I know they’re going to win is it’s like a slap in the face to schedule your homecoming with us coming to town. That’s like ‘Oh, we’re going to blow them out’ That’s going to be a fun game.

Missouri has now schedules Oklahoma as their homecoming opponent 15 times—the Tigers are 9-6 in those games. With Mizzou on the road three of the four weeks during homecoming season, the only game that made much sense to schedule for homecoming was the OU game. The only thing McCoy was right about was the fact that it was a fun game. A very fun game.

Jimmy Burch (Ft. Worth Star Telegram)
“Missouri in this series has enough mental baggage to fill a jumbo jet. I’ll need to see Tiger fans tearing down the goal posts at Faurot Field before I believe Mizzou’s defensive superiority will translate into a victory over OU.

Like this, Mr Burch?

Stewart Mandel ( writer)
The Sooners have owned Mizzou during Bob Stoops’ tenure (and throughout history), but the Tigers’ menacing pass-rush will force a couple of Landry Jones turnovers and spark a landscape-shaking upset.

Tigers menacing pass rush? Check.
A couple of Landry Jones turnovers? Check. (2 interceptions)
Landscape-shaking upset? Check.

Mizzou and Oklahoma

Mizzou’s football program has been on the rise ever since Gary Pinkel took over in 2001. He’s put his stamp on the Tigers, building high-powered offenses based around excellent quarterbacks. Mizzou was one win away from a national title in 2007 and has appeared in several Big 12 championships the past decade. This Saturday, ESPN’s College Gameday will make its way to Columbia, Missouri for the matchup of #1 Oklahoma and #11 Missouri. Oklahoma has been the proverbial thorn in Missouri’s side since Gary Pinkel arrived. He hasn’t beaten Oklahoma in six tries and some of those losses were more devastating than just another loss.

After losses to OU in 2002 and 2003, the Tigers and Sooners didn’t meet again until 2006. The Tigers were 7-1 (3-1 Big 12) and coming off a big win against Kansas State. The Sooners were unranked and struggling through the season after their starting quarterback Rhett Bomar was forced to leave the school following NCAA sanctions and star running back Adrian Peterson was out with a broken collarbone. It looked like a good opportunity for Missouri to knock off one of the historical Big 12 powerhouses. But Peterson’s replacement ran all over the Missouri defense and the OU defense held the offense that had been averaging over 30 points a game to just 10 and won by sixteen.

The next season, Missouri once again started the season unranked but skated through a soft non-conference schedule and then pummeled Nebraska on national television 41-6 to move to 5-0 headed into the Oklahoma game. Mizzou headed into Norman to face the number 6 ranked Sooners and erased a 13 point deficit to take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. But Oklahoma rattled off three straight touchdowns to knock Mizzou from the ranks of the unbeatens.

The two Big 12 rivals would meet again two and a half months later in the Big 12 championship game. In the time since their first meeting, Oklahoma had suffered their second loss of the season two weeks beforehand against Texas Tech which wiped out their national championship hopes, but Missouri had won six straight games by an average of more than three touchdowns and came into the game 11-1 and ranked second in the nation. A win against Oklahoma would send Missouri to the BCS national championship game. The two teams were deadlocked at 14 going into halftime and Mizzou was 30 minutes away from college football’s biggest game, but Oklahoma scored twice within a span of two minutes in the third quarter to take a 28-14 lead. Missouri was overmatched by the bigger and stronger Sooners and lost by a score of 38-17 to knock them out of national title contention.

They did not meet in the 2008 regular season, but the 9-3 Tigers won the Big 12 North and the right to face Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship for the second consecutive season. This time around it was Oklahoma looking at a trip to the national championship game should they win the Big 12 and Missouri looked to return the favor Oklahoma paid them the previous season. But Oklahoma was better and Missouri not as good as the last time they met and Oklahoma wiped the floor with Missouri in a 62-21, piling up over 600 yards of total offense without turning the ball over. Oklahoma would move on to the national championship game against Florida which they lost 24-14 while Missouri managed a 30-23 Alamo Bowl win over Northwestern.

Missouri (#11) and Oklahoma (#1) have not met since the 2008 Big 12 championship and both come into Saturday’s College Gameday matchup with 6-0 records and realistic national title hopes. ESPN’s College Gameday will make it’s way to Columbia for the first time. This will be the fifth Mizzou game that they cover, but the first time that MU’s campus will play host to Chris Fowler and company as they preview Saturday’s matchup. Gameday covered the Mizzou-Oklahoma game in Norman (2007), the Border War matchup in Kansas City (2007), the Big 12 title game (2007) and the Mizzou-Texas game (2008).

This will be the third time Missouri participates in a Gameday while ranked #11 and are 0-4 in Gameday games. They have been the higher ranked team only once, in the 2008 Big 12 Championship game when they were #1 and Oklahoma was #9. Gameday is known for it’s prediction segment, when various people predict the winner of the game. Two of the more well-known predictors are Lee Corso, who dons the mascot head of the team he picks and the celebrity picker, who is a well-known alum from the host school. NFL quarterback Brad Smith, actor Brad Pitt and performer Sheryl Crow have all been unavailable for this weekend’s matchup, and the celebrity is still TBD.

It’s a huge opportunity for not only Missouri’s football program but to showcase the campus, the school and the town to the rest of the country. I wish that I was able to make it out there to be on the quad in the crowd the morning of the game, but hopefully the student body and community has one helluva showing. And hopefully that showing is well-behaved and mature. Missouri has some terrible juvenile fans and the school would do well to avoid those particular individuals when representing itself on a national scale.

Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert

Due to the nature of college football that includes high turnover rates, games that happened two or three years ago have little significance on what will transpire this year. Mizzou and Oklahoma are still included amongst the nation’s top teams, but both are starkly different from their 2007 or 2008 counterparts. Oklahoma owned the nation’s highest scoring offense and was loaded with future NFL talent led by quarterback Sam Bradford. Missouri had a flashy offense but an extremely porous defense. They were dominated on both the offensive and defensive lines and could not establish any semblance of a running game.

This time around, Missouri possesses more complete talent on the defensive line and the offensive line looks to be the best unit Gary Pinkel has had. Despite the dismissal of top running back Derrick Washington before the season, Mizzou has used four different running backs and is averaging nearly five yards a carry headed into their matchup with the Sooners. Both teams have changed, as college teams are wont to do. Both are still excellent programs, but have adjusted themselves to the talent that they have. Expect the Zou to be rocking on Saturday night and one helluva football game.

Deathly Hallows Trailer

Less than a month.

The Office

NBC’s The Office is a show that I started watching about a year ago and really got into. I loved the whole premise and the humor was exactly the type that I like. I’m a sucker for good writing and character relationships and The Office had both.

Much of the show’s premise is built around Steve Carell’s character, Dunder-Mifflin Regional Manager Michael Scott. He’s innately a nice guy, but undoubtedly socially inept. His intentions are typically genuine and good, but his methods are questionable at best and downright inappropriate at worst. But despite all that he’s the glue of the show. Plots and story arcs run through him and his antics a majority of the time.

Season 7 premiered a few weeks ago and Carell announced that he would not be returning to the show following the expiration of his contract, which calls for him to do seven seasons. The show definitely will not be the same without the quirky and often inept boss, but it is also absolutely sustainable without him. I’m positive the show will be around for at least one season following Carell’s departure, but if it can spend time writing his character off the show and preparing for life post-Michael, then The Office can get two or three more good seasons. It will take a lot of foresight and talented writing, but The Office writers have a track record of both of those qualities.

What I’m looking for in Season 7 is for the writers to put considerable effort into developing characters other than Michael. The first two episodes didn’t do much of that, focusing mostly on Michael and his problems, but last night’s installment relegated Michael almost to a sulky afterthought and did a good job at reminding me that there are other endearing characters on the show.

Jim & Pam

The third episode included everything that makes The Office so enjoyable. It had moments that were completely uncomfortable and others that were surprisingly touching. In the early seasons fans enjoyed the awkwardness that Michael and Dwight offered, but also were entertained by the seasons-long “will they or won’t they dance” that Jim and Pam did. Awkward moments will continue to abound without Michael Scott, but the writers will have to develop a new sentimental story line now that Jim and Pam are married and domesticated.

They tried a love-triangle between Andy, Angela and Dwight but it was poorly done and I wasn’t overly impressed with anything that transpired. This season Andy is in a new triangle, this time with cutie Erin and corporate-head Gabe and there are definite possibilities there.

I doubt that The Office will ever return to the form it had over the first three or four seasons, but it can continue to be a very enjoyable show if Michael is properly written off the show and the other characters are effectively prepared for life without Michael.

Mizzou Tigers In The NFL

Mizzou has recently turned out some high-caliber NFL players. There are currently thirteen former Tigers suiting up for NFL teams, including three players that were drafted in the first round since 2009.

Brad Smith

From 2002 to 2005, Brad Smith started every game for Mizzou and set 68 different MU, Big 12 and NCAA game, season and career records. He was the first player to pass for 8,000 yards and run for 4,000 yards in career and the first player to pass for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a season twice in a career.

He was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round (103rd overall) in the 2006 NFL draft. Smith has since been used in several different situations. He’s taken snaps as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and has become a standout on special teams. Smith has become one of the most versatile players in the NFL, having scored touchdowns on a kick return, caught a touchdown pass, rushed for a touchdown and thrown a touchdown pass. Smith has become the catalyst for the Jets Wildcat formation, causing matchup problems for defense due to his ability to run or throw the football.

Jeremy Maclin

Jeremy Maclin was another record-setting player at Mizzou, setting the NCAA mark for most all-purpose yards in a season as a freshman with 2,776 returning, rushing and receiving yards. He was named an All-American in both 2007 and 2008 and entered the draft as a top prospect.

He fell further than expected on draft day but was eventually drafted in the first round (19th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles. He made his first start three weeks into his rookie season and scored his first two touchdowns a month later against the Buccaneers. At the end of his rookie season, he became the youngest player (21 years, 243 days) to score a touchdown in the playoffs when he turned a bubble screen into a 76-yard score. In 2010, Maclin has caught four touchdowns in four games and is establishing himself as a dangerous deep threat for whoever takes snaps for the Eagles.

Sean Weatherspoon

Sean Weatherspoon was one of four true freshman to see game-action for Mizzou in 2006, as he saw playing time in all 13 games. He was named the starter in 2007, led the team in tackles with 130 and was named to the All Big-12 first team. The 155 tackles he would amass in 2008 were the second-most in Mizzou history and he would go on to be named the Alamo Bowl’s Defensive MVP. He returned for his senior season and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Jeremy Maclin to do the same.

Weatherspoon declared for the 2010 NFL draft (after graduating with me in 2009) and was selected in the first round (19th overall, just like Maclin) by the Atlanta Falcons. He won a starting job in training camp and recorded his first career sack in his second ever game, dropping Arizona’s Derek Anderson for a nine-yard loss. My favorite part of the sack is his Spoon Dance afterwards.

William Moore

William Moore struggled with injuries throughout his career at Mizzou, but was tremendous when he was on the field. Despite the missed time, he finished his college career with 284 tackles, 11 interceptions, three sacks, and a school record four interception return touchdowns. As a junior, his 117 tackles and school record eight interceptions earned his All-American and All-Big 12 honors.

Moore was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons and made only two tackles while playing in just two games during his rookie season, missing most of it due to injury. He has earned a starting job in Week 2 for the Falcons in 2010 and has appeared in three games this season for the Dirty Birds, recording 12 tackles, two pass breakups and forcing a fumble. He recorded his first career interception against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 and added his second two weeks later against the San Francisco 49ers.

Chase Daniel

After a prolific career at Mizzou that returned the school to a national prominence, Chase Daniel went undrafted in the 2009 draft, but signed on with the Washington Redskins. He was cut a few weeks later and signed on with the New Orleans Saints. He bounced back and forth between the practice squad and the active roster, and was released and re-signed on two separate occasions. He never saw the field in 2009, but was a part of a Super Bowl season and was named the emergency quarterback for two games.

Daniel battled with Patrick Ramsey for the Saints backup quarterback job going into the 2010 season and won the right to back up MVP candidate Drew Brees. Daniel logged his first official NFL minutes this past Sunday in a win over the Carolina Panthers, serving as the holder for extra points. I expect that he’ll eventually see some game-action as a quarterback sometime this season during garbage time.

Ziggy Hood

Ziggy Hood is perhaps the forgotten first-round pick from Mizzou, taken 32nd overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 NFL draft. Hood enjoyed a successful collegiate career before entering the NFL, where he has become a rotational defensive lineman. He recorded his first career sack and his first career fumble recovery against Baltimore in December of 2009.

Justin Gage was drafted in the 5th round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Bears and has enjoyed some solid seasons with the Tennessee Titans, leading them in receiving yards in 2007. Chase Coffman was drafted in the 3rd round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009. He spent most of the year injured and was released and re-signed to the practice squad. Martin Rucker was drafted in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns in 2008 but was released nearly a year later without ever seeing the field. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and was promoted to the active roster on December 15. After he was released, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys and is currently on their practice squad.

Atiyyah Ellison (3rd round, Carolina) and CJ Mosley (6th round, Minnesota) were both drafted in 2005 and have spent their NFL careers bouncing around from team to team. Mosley is currently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars while Ellison remains unsigned. Offensive lineman Colin Brown was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by Kansas City.

Justin Smith

Justin Smith was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and is the longest tenured Mizzou Tiger in the NFL. Smith holds the Mizzou record for most sacks in a season (11) and most tackles for loss in a season (24). In 1998, he became the first true freshman since 1986 to start every game for Missouri and was named as an All-American in 2000.

Since becoming a starter in his rookie season, Smith has missed only four games in the NFL. He recorded 8.5 sacks in his rookie season, setting a Bengals rookie-record. In 2008 he signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers that included an $11 million signing bonus. Of the Mizzou Tigers drafted within the past ten years, Smith has enjoyed the most success—including a 2010 Pro Bowl appearance.