BCS Rankings 2010: Breaking Down the Missouri Tigers
The first BCS rankings of the 2010 season are finally out, and the Missouri Tigers are 11th with a 6-0 record and riding high after their 30-9 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies Saturday.
The 2010 Tigers are starting to remind many fans of the 2007 Tigers led by all-time Tiger great Chase Daniel and his cast of future NFL players.
The Tigers are 6-0 for just the second time under head coach Gary Pinkel as they head into their homecoming week against the undefeated and No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners this Saturday.
ESPN's College GameDay will host the game while Mizzou puts on its homecoming festivities. The Tigers are expecting a large crowd as many fans plan to attend College GameDay's live coverage.
How Missouri Got to This Point
The Missouri Tigers started this season with as many question as answers. The suspension and eventual dismissal of starting running back Derrick Washington left the Tigers wondering who would step up and deliver consistent play out of the backfield.
Freshman running back Henry Josey answered the call and has stepped up big for Mizzou. Josey is averaging 7.1 yards per carry while sharing carries in the backfield with De'Vion Moore and Kendial Lawrence.
Sophomore receiver T.J. Moe has exploded onto the scene, gaining 589 yards receiving on 50 receptions while scoring three touchdowns. Tight end Michael Egnew, is not far behind with 49 receptions for 437 yards and three touchdowns.
Surprisingly the story of the season for the Tigers has been their defense. Under defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, the Tigers have held opponents to under 11 points per game while offensive coordinator David Yost's group rack up just over 34 points per game.
The Tigers have been a menace to opposing quarterbacks this season, registering 20 sacks that is tied for fourth in the nation to go along with nine interceptions.
Missouri's defense ranks second in scoring defense and has scored seven touchdowns off of takeaways.
Missouri's Best Win
Missouri's 30-9 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies was by far their most impressive of the season.
Some might suggest Missouri's last-minute victory over San Diego State at home was its best win this season. Granted T.J. Moe saved the season with his amazing run after catch, but I still believe the Aggie victory stands as MU's best win to date.
Missouri players were able to ignore the raucous crowd of 83,453 Aggie fans and focus on executing their individual assignments, which is not an easy thing to do at Kyle Field House.
Blaine Gabbert has one of his best days as a Tiger and completed 31 of 47 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Just as important, Gabbert had complete control of the Tiger offense and did not turn the ball over.
Moe stepped up again and had an outstanding day, catching six passes for 110 yards.
The Missouri defense kept the pressure on Aggie quarterback Jerrod Johnson all afternoon, only allowing one touchdown and sacking him seven times.
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The Missouri Tigers are now ranked just out of the top 10 in the country at No. 11, just behind the Ohio State Buckeyes.
A win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday would put Mizzou in the top 10.
The Tigers totaled .549 points in this year's BCS rankings, which puts them ahead of Stanford (.537).
There were not too many surprises this season, as the rankings seemed to be in line with some of the other polls. After all the losses this Saturday, it was no surprise to see some teams fall from grace as far as the BCS rankings are concerned.
Too High or Too Low
The Tigers' BCS ranking was close to being spot on. They are just coming into their own under quarterback Blaine Gabbert's leadership, and they still have a lot to prove this season.
Sitting at No. 11 gives the Tigers a goal of getting into the top 10. Remaining one of the few undefeated teams obviously helped Mizzou and its ranking.
With Missouri's "almost" defeat to San Diego State, I can understand why the BCS was hesitant to rank Mizzou any higher at this point.
The main thing to remember is that the Tigers play in a great football conference and can shoot up in the BCS rankings if they can continue win week in and week out—unlike Boise State or TCU, who will need help.
This is not new territory for MU. The 2007 Tigers under Heisman hopeful Chase Daniel's leadership attained the top spot in the polls before losing to Oklahoma. Surely, that won't happen again.
With Oklahoma at No. 1, the Tigers have a great opportunity to show the BCS and the nation that they are for real this Saturday when they take on the Sooners in Columbia at the Zou.
October 23: Oklahoma at home in the Zou
October 30: at Nebraska
November 6: at Texas Tech
November 13: Kansas State at home in the Zou
November 20: at Iowa State
November 27: Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium
December 4: Big 12 Championship Game at Cowboys Stadium
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Missouri's homecoming game this weekend could be the Tigers' pitfall this season. It happened in 2007 when the Sooners beat the Tigers twice, giving MU their only losses of the season.
Oklahoma got off to a slow start this year but, as usual under Bob Stoops, it continued to win and finally exploded for a 52-0 rout of Big 12 North opponent Iowa State.
The Tigers will have to play like they did against Texas A&M and Colorado in order to give Coach Pinkel his first win over Stoops and his Sooners.
If Missouri can get star defensive end Aldon Smith back from injury, the Tigers will be hard to stop in the Big 12.
Smith went down with a broken fibula in Missouri's game against Miami of Ohio. Smith has continued to state that he will be back in time for each game, but so far he has been unable to go.
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel has done a great job of moving players around and the Tigers haven't missed a beat with Smith out of the lineup.
Once Smith, who is a sack machine, is back and ready to go, it will only increase the pressure Missouri can put on opposing quarterbacks.
Missouri's offense is beginning to show signs of life that will only make the Tigers more difficult to game-plan against as the season rolls on.
The Tigers seemed to have benefited from some recent losses by other BCS teams this past week.
It's nice to be ranked and to get the attention that the BCS offers, but Mizzou will need to remain focused as it is heading into the meat of its Big 12 schedule.
Since Texas knocked off Nebraska this weekend, the Tigers are now in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 North.
If Missouri can get through the Big 12 unscathed, it will remain on track to play for the Big 12 Championship in Dallas on December 4.
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Okay, okay, so it's the ultimate homer pick.
If Missouri can get past the solid football teams within the Big 12 Conference, then I like the Tigers' chances to go all the way.
Texas has shown there is a dent in its armor, and we will know about Oklahoma this weekend when the Tigers and Sooners line up on Faurot Field.
If and when Mizzou can get past Bob Stoops and the Sooners, they will have an excellent shot at playing for the BCS National Championship in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.