Plenty at Stake for Missouri Tigers

Scott TaylorCorrespondent INovember 28, 2007

Icon Sports MediaIn a season full of surprises, perhaps the most surprising of all is the play of the Missouri Tigers.

It doesn't surprise me that they are a good team or that Chase Daniel is in the running for the Heisman—I could have told you that would happen before the season started, although few would have believed me.

What surprises me is that they have been able to win the big game. In coach Gary Pinkel's tenure, the Tigers have become more and more talented, especially at quarterback with Brad Smith and Daniel.

But every time they played in a big game, they lost.

Even last year's team couldn't finish. Sure, they beat Texas Tech on the road, but they lost pivotal games to Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Oklahoma (not to mention a loss at pathetic Iowa State). Then, in the bowl game they blew a late 14 point lead to Oregon State.

This year's team has just been different. They don't hold off teams with their defense, they do it with their offense. Kansas came back time and time again to make it a ball game last week, but Missouri's offense responded.

Mizzou's lone loss of the year came to Oklahoma. Despite the loss, it was then that I knew this team was for real. The Tigers had the lead in the fourth quarter before they self destructed with turnovers and dropped a pick in the end zone. Even playing at Oklahoma, they had a chance to win, before falling 41-31.

Since then they have been on a path to destruction, and now a rematch with the Sooners on a neutral field looms. The earlier loss means nothing because with a win they are in the BCS Championship game.

I picked the Tigers to beat Kansas all year and that didn't change before last week, but I also said that Oklahoma would prevail in the rematch. This, unfortunately, is no different either.

The Tigers have a better offense than Oklahoma, but the Sooners' defense is much more powerful than Missouri's. I still don't know how Oklahoma lost to Colorado, a team Missouri crushed 52-10, but the only reason the Sooners aren't playing for a BCS Championship berth is because of Sam Bradford's injury in the Tech game.

With that said, the Sooners get more stops in a 37-31 heart-pounding win, allowing the Ohio State Luckeyes to back into the title game by sitting on their backside.

As for the Heisman, it is Daniel's to win. He is the only one of the big three to still have a game—and what a big game it is.

I don't think his game will be good enough to win the Heisman and he will finish in third. If he throws for 350 and the Tigers win, he deserves the Heisman for a clutch performance against a very good team, however it will probably take at least 400 yards and four touchdowns for him to win the Heisman.

Don't be surprised next year to see Daniel and the Tigers in the same position, but expect to see Jeremy Macklin in the Heisman race as well.