Life Or Death: Missouri Tigers Face Huge Task Against Top-Ranked Longhorns

Peter FleischerSenior Writer IOctober 16, 2008

After their first loss of the season, the road only gets more difficult for the Missouri Tigers this week. They go into Austin, Texas where they have basically never won, and must face the number one ranked team in the country in the Longhorns. Facing their second loss in a row, and a game that could knock them out of the hunt for a BCS bowl, a win this week would be monstrous.

5. Stopping Colt McCoy

I put this at number five because it's very unlikely to happen. If Oklahoma couldn't do it, Missouri almost definitely can't. But McCoy is absolutely the focal point of the Longhorn offense. He's their rushing leader and makes wideouts Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley much better. Keeping him in the pocket and forcing a couple turnovers would be a huge part of limiting the damage he does.

4. Running the football

This is crucial for both teams. Colt McCoy is the 'Horns leading rusher, so if he can be slowed and the Tigers can continue what has been a rough season for Texas' running backs, their task will be easier.

Additionally, the 'Horns have been fantastic against the run this season. After basically giving up on the run against Oklahoma State, the Tigers have promised to remember D-Wash and let me get his carries from now on. If Missouri is effective on the ground, it makes Chase Daniel's life a lot easier.

3. Questionable secondaries

Texas came into the season with a very young secondary which has played well lately. Missouri came into the season with a veteran-filled secondary which has been burned for the big play all year. Both teams have had their ups-and-downs. The team that can expose the opposing secondary should win the game.

I don't know why the hell William Moore is continually sent to blitz. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has seen his secondary torched deep all season. STOP SENDING WILLY MO ON THE BLITZ. If this happens in the Texas game, Missouri will almost certainly lose.

On the other end, Missouri will have to take advantage of Texas' young secondary, which includes true freshmen Blake Gideon and Aaron Williams. If Chase Daniel can return to his old form in front of his friends in family in Austin, Missouri's chances get much better.

2. Coaching

Much was made about Gary Pinkel's play-calling last week. He shied away from the run and seemed to be conservative in the passing game, although part of that may have been because of how well OSU played. If Pinkel can win this game, it would certainly go down as a signature win on his resume.

On the other end, will Mack Brown be able to expose Missouri's flaws as Mike Gundy and the Cowboys did? It would appear that the advantage is Brown's, because of his big game experience, but if the 'Horns come in on a high becase of the win over the Sooners, an upset is possible.

1. Turnovers

This is huge. Colt McCoy has a history of turning the ball over. Chase Daniel was like Fort Knox with the pigskin until last week at home. Which versions will we see? It's likely that the only way Missouri pulls the upset is if McCoy reverts to his younger form, throwing a couple of picks. And Daniel cannot throw those "wing and a prayer" balls we saw in Columbia.

Prediction: Texas 42, Missouri 27

Colt McCoy is like a better version of Zac Robinson. I see almost no chance that the Tigers can slow him down to the point of outscoring him. He is too good scrambling and has two very good weapons in Cosby and Shipley.

Missouri can win this ball game, and it will come on the line. If their offensive line can hold their blocks a bit longer and give Chase some more time, that will be a huge lift for the offense. But Texas' defensive line is one of the best in the country.

Sorry Tiger fans, Missouri ends up with their second loss in a row. Luckily, the storm is over, and the rest of their Big 12 schedule looks a lot easier.