Although the SEC is more noted for its intense conference play and fierce rivalries, everybody knows the Big 12 is no joke this season either. Four out of the top 10 teams in the country are in the Big 12, and eight of the 12 are getting ranked votes.
Missouri might not be facing the gauntlet of doom in the upcoming month, but the Tigers are certainly facing a difficult stretch during their quest to win the Big 12 North. Here's a preview of their games over the next month and a hint at what the team will need to do to win.
Oct. 4 @ Nebraska
Hey, people might think Nebraska is a new doormat, but I beg to differ. They are currently 3-0 and face an overrated Virginia Tech team this week at home, where a win is definitely possible. It's tough to get a read on the Huskers so far, as the Missouri game will be their first contest against an elite team.
For the Tigers to win in Lincoln after their bye week, they'll simply need to stay calm. Veterans like Chase Daniel and William Moore will need to keep their respective units under control in front of a Nebraska crowd that will be looking for revenge after last year's drubbing in Columbia.
Oct. 11 vs. Oklahoma State
Nobody's really talking about OK State, but their offense is one of many high-flying offenses in the Big 12. With Missouri's secondary looking questionable so far this season, one wonders if the combo of Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter will cause fits for the Tiger defense.
Missouri would be greatly aided by a couple of turnovers early in the game against OK State to slow down their offense and leap ahead early, forcing the Cowboys to run the ball and play against the clock.
Oct. 18 @ Texas
This is definitely the biggest game on Missouri's schedule, and as tough as Missouri's schedule might be before this game, the Longhorns' is even more strenuous. As much as Colt McCoy might scare the Tigers defense at this point, he should look a little less amazing after facing Arkansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma leading up to the Tiger game.
Missouri will need to play their best all-around ball to hook the 'Horns in Austin, period. Scoring early against a Texas team that struggles to run the ball will help, and taking advantage of a secondary that is even worse then theirs will aid that cause.
Oct. 25 vs. Colorado
The Buffs are continuing their rebuilding effort under head coach Dan Hawkins, and they might have taken a big step to become a nationally ranked team. Colorado is receiving votes after their defeat of West Virginia at home, and you know that they'll have revenge on their mind after the blowout Missouri put on them at home in 2007.
Chase Daniel destroyed the Buffaloes for 421 yards and five TDs last season, so count on them to drop a lot of men back into coverage this time around. I'd predict Derrick Washington has a monster game in Columbia, and that Chase Coffman and Jeremy Maclin wreak havoc with intermediate routes.
It's not so much that the Tigers can't lose another game outside of this stretch. They could definitely lose in Kansas City against Kansas or be upset by really any team on their schedule. But if they are going to drop a game that people don't expect, my guess is that it would be against Nebraska or OK State.
BUT, if they can come out unscathed going into November, the Tigers will be poised to make it through conference play without a loss, setting themselves up for a possible national title run.
Keep your fingers crossed, Mizzou fans. It's sure to be a fun ride.