I hate to beat a dead horse, but as community leader, I'll again state that Mizzou did what they had to against SE Missouri State this weekend. Now they look forward to their next game, this time against a respectable Nevada team. Nobody was hurt, and the offense rolled. Let's move on.
This week, Nevada's respected if not heralded offense rolls into town. After the Wolf Pack played Texas Tech very closely last weekend, a team similar to Missouri, the Tigers are certainly not letting their guard down. Wary of an upset, here are some points that are crucial to a Tigers victory.
5. Willy Mo's return
After missing the SEMO game, coaches are claiming that safety William Moore will play on Saturday if all goes well this week. He's definitely needed, as Missouri's pass defense has been one of the worst in the nation thus far (fourth worst). Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick is a talented young signal caller, so they'll need every weapon they can get to defend the pass.
4. Back at full strength?
Make no mistake, Missouri still hasn't played at full strength all year. Van and Danario Alexander (no relation) were possibilities to play against SEMO but didn't. Will they play this week? The offense won't be running on all cylinders until they have the freakish ability of Danario back. Nevada might be the first victim to combat that this season.
3. Nevada's pass defense
Is it possible that the Nevada defense could slow down Chase Daniel and the Tigers? Well, Graham Harrell certainly struggled, completing only 41.3 percent of passes and throwing for two INTs to only one TD.
Missouri's spread offense is a different version of Texas Tech's, and Daniel is actually a more consistent player at times, so the real test will be on Gary Pinkel. His play calling will have to take what the Nevada offense gives him. But if all goes well, I see no reason that Missouri won't roll again.
2. Special teams
I saw Jeremy Maclin in my Social Inequalities class today, and he was drooling for the entire hour. Why, you ask? Well, Nevada special teams gave up an 86-yard punt return against Texas Tech, and J-Mac, as we all know, likes to return punts for huge chunks of yardage.
But that's not even the end of it. Nevada also had a punt blocked and missed two field goals. Meanwhile, Jake Harry has been a good punter thus far, and the Tigers have one of the best placekickers in the country in Jeff Wolfert. This area alone could bump Missouri ahead in a close game.
1. No Luke Lippincott
Lippincott led the WAC in rushing last season, but he injured his left knee against Tech and will miss the rest of the season. He was averaging 6.1 yards per carry and was obviously the most heralded guy in the backfield, but Vai Taua and Brandon Fragger are talented as well.
Missouri has had no trouble stopping the run this season, so unless Taua and Fragger have monster games, they should be in good shape.
Final Prediction: Missouri 38, Nevada 20
Nevada might put some points up on Missouri, but the Tigers should put more up on Nevada. Period. Nevada is a respectable Division I program, but Missouri should continue to improve, and Nevada is missing their best player on offense. Mizzou continues to roll at home.