Missouri and Texas Tech both enter this weekend’s matchup in Columbia eager to prove that they belong among the Big 12 elite.
With Texas Tech in a four-way tie for the South lead and Kansas (yes, I did say Kansas) leading the way in the North, both the Red Raiders and the Tigers must keep winning if they want to remain in the championship hunt.
The winner of Saturday’s game will still be a title contender. The loser probably won't be.
Junior QB Chase Daniel leads Missouri’s multifaceted offensive attack.
The former Texas high school gunslinger has completed 186-270 passes for 2,073 yards with 16 TDs and 6 INTs. He has a 68.9 percent completion rate and averages 7.7 yards per attempt.
Senior Tony Temple spearheads the Tigers’ running game. He has carried the ball 71 times for 351 yards, an average of 4.9 yards per carry, with 3 TDs.
Although Temple missed last week’s game against Oklahoma, Missouri coaches are expecting him to play this week.
QB Daniel is next on the rushing list with 52 carries for 187 yards with 3 TDs.
Talented WR Jeremy Maclin has done some damage on the ground as well. The freshman has rushed 20 times for 207 yards and 3 TDs.
Jimmy Jackson follows with 18 carries for 84 yards and 1 TD. Backup QB Chase Patton has the Tigers’ other rushing TD, but the team will use almost anyone on their roster to run the ball—including standout TEs Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman.
Missouri's receivers are led by the aforementioned tandem of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman. Both are NFL material.
Rucker has 44 receptions for 474 yards and 3 TDs. Coffman has reeled in 34 passes for 341 yards and 3 TDs.
Maclin is just behind them with 30 catches for 359 yards and 3 TDs. Senior Will Franklin is next with 29 catches for 404 yards—that’s a team-leading average of 13.9 yards per reception.
Franklin also boasts a team-leading 4 TDs on the season.
Danario Alexander, Tommy Saunders, Tony Temple, and Greg Bracey all have one receiving TD to round out Missouri’s offensive numbers.
Texas Tech Passing
Graham Harrell has been razor-sharp thus far for Texas Tech.
The junior from Ennis, Texas is leading the nation in most of the meaningful passing statistics. He has completed 258 of 347 passes for 3,151 yards, with 31 TDs and 3 INTs.
He currently has a 74 percent completion rate and is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt.
Forgive Harrell if he plays this one with a chip on his shoulder—he was intercepted twice in last year’s game against Missouri, and both picks were returned for Missouri touchdowns.
Texas Tech Rushing
Shannon Woods is Tech’s leading rusher with 74 carries for 409 yards and 8 TDs.
Kobey Lewis has rushed 31 times for 116 yards, with 2 TDs.
Freshman Aaron Crawford has 19 totes for 58 yards, and Harrell has found the end zone three times on QB keepers.
Like Missouri, Texas Tech will use WRs in the running game to exploit the defense’s weak spots.
Texas Tech Receiving
Texas Tech’s leading receiver is Michael Crabtree. If you haven’t seen him, you're missing something truly special.
The freshman from Dallas has 78 catches for 1,244 yards and 17 TDs, and is the nation’s leader in all three categories.
Senior Danny Amendola has also played well, hauling in 60 passes for 755 yard and 5 TDs.
RB Shannon Woods has 30 catches for 112 yards and 2 TDs. The junior RB had his best game of the season last week against A&M, and appeared to rediscover the shiftiness that made him last season’s Big 12 leader in all-purpose yardage.
Eric Morris has 28 catches for 350 yards and 4 TDs.
Edward Britton is the fastest player on Tech’s roster but he’s suffered from a case of the drops at times this season. He found paydirt for the first time against A&M, and has 19 grabs for 224 yards.
Grant Walker has 17 catches for 213 yards and 2 TDs.
LA Reed, the usual starter on the outside opposite Crabtree, missed last week’s game but should return against the Tigers. Reed has 13 catches for 168 yards.
Reed's biggest contribution against the Tigers could be on special teams, where he'll try to contain explosive MU return man Jeremy Maclin.
Texas Tech has never won a game at Missouri...ever.
However, Mike Leach and the Pirates of the Plains have their best opportunity to accomplish that feat this weekend—especially given their exceptional receiver talent and Harrell's excellent decision-making skills.
The game will be a barometer of sorts for these two teams. Is Missouri the real front-runner in the North? Is Texas Tech’s defense really that much better than it was in early September?
These questions and more will be answered once the dust settles at the end of the game.
Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Missouri 41