After their blowout win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers last weekend, the Missouri Tigers will need to keep their offense on a roll when the Oklahoma State Cowboys roll into Columbia on Saturday.
With a perfectly balanced offense led by quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter, and wideout Dez Bryant, the Tigers will require a stellar defensive effort and a typical yet spectacular output from their offense.
5. Get to the signal caller
Missouri really got to Joe Ganz last week in Lincoln. That kind of pressure will be crucial to force Robinson into tough spots and possibly turnovers. Getting to Robinson without the blitz will be really important, because the Cowboys have the ability to burn the Tigers with the big passing play via Dez Bryant.
4. Derrick Washington keeps rolling
As I've said, D-Wash will be important on Saturday to compliment the passing attack. It looks like Chase Daniel will be able to throw the ball against Okie State, so if Washington can gash the line and force them to stay honest in coverage, the Cowboys will have a very tough time stopping the ball.
3. Chase Daniel does his thing
I know Robinson and Co. have been putting up points, but look at who they've played! Not one good defense. I'm confident that if Chase Daniel can continue to put up numbers like he has, to the tune of maybe 300 yards and two or three scores, the Tigers will win.
However, he can't turn the ball over. OK State has gotten two interceptions each of their last two games, so Daniel will have to be smart as well as effective. While the 'Boys have good depth and talent in their front four, their back seven looks ripe for the picking against the pass.
2. Contain Dez Bryant
Nobody in their schedule thus far has been able to do it, but the Tigers defense is the best they've faced. Bryant is second in the nation in scoring and has 550 yards and nine TDs. The Tigers have been burnt by the deep ball at times this season, and that's exactly what Bryant brings to the table.
For the Tigers to be successful against Bryant, they'll need good play from Carl Gettis and William Moore. Gettis is the best cornerback on the roster, and if he can get physical with Bryant, limit the big play, and force him to go over the middle, others like Moore and Sean Weatherspoon can punish him a little.
If Bryant gets loose over the top or on the outside, it could be a long day for the Tigers' secondary. Unlike other opponents, Oklahoma State has the power to keep up with them on offense.
1. The "grinders" are crucial
Missouri's defense is one of the better units in the nation at 14th against the run, and Ziggy Hood, Jaron Baston, and the rest of their interior line will need to be at the top of their game against OK State's Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston. Both rank in the top five of the Big 12 in rushing.
If Oklahoma State is able to run the ball, keep the Missouri offense off the field, and wear down the Tigers defense, it could be a long and potentially very dangerous day for the Tigers. But if Missouri can stop the run as they did against Illinois and Nebraska, they'll have a much better chance at winning.
One big key will be depth at the defensive line. Players like Brian Coulter, Terrell Resonno, Dominique Hamilton, and Jacquies Smith will be really important off the bench to keep the Tigers fresh and effective.
Prediction: Missouri 55, Oklahoma State 34
Don't misunderstand my score here. I think that Oklahoma State is very capable of walking into Columbia and stealing a win.
However, I'm not a firm believer in the Cowboys just yet. They have played nobody! They are worse than last year's Kansas Jayhawks version. Seriously. So while I do believe that their offense is effective and talented, I still think that Missouri will be able to outscore them in Columbia.