The plus side of playing difficult games like Illinois, Oklahoma State, and Texas in the beginning of the year is games like their next one for the Missouri Tigers.
Going into Ames, Iowa, Mizzou faces a team that has lost it's last eight games in a row and is 0-6 in conference play.
Not exactly staunch competition.
But ISU has a history of playing tough against the Tigers, so Missouri will have to be on their toes and focused on getting what should be an easy win en route to possibly clinching another Big 12 North title. Here's five topics I see being significant on Saturday in Ames.
5. Get the youngsters a heavy dose of playing time
Iowa State ranks 11th in the Big 12 in total offense, 10th in total defense, and has absolutely nothing to be playing for other than to be the spoiler. This should be a blowout, especially if Chase Daniel can get his act together and limit turnovers.
Gary Pinkel has taken some heat for lifting so many redshirts off of true freshman this year, and this will probably be his last chance to get them some meaningful playing time. Players like Blaine Gabbert, Jerrell Jackson, Michael Egnew, and Andrew Jones should get their chance at running with some first-team players for future games.
4. Rest Chase Coffman
Again, not exactly a key to winning, but I really hope that Gary Pinkel rests Chase Coffman on Saturday. Foot and toe injuries can re-occur very easily in football, and the Tigers shouldn't have a very tough time with the Cyclones. I say, why take the risk? Let Coffman get healthy over the next two weeks and he'll be at 100% for the KU game and possibly the Big 12 Championship.
3. Score early
Iowa State hasn't won since September 6 against Kent State. Since then they have lost to UNLV, blown a 21-point lead against KU, lost to Baylor by 28, and given up 49 points to Texas A&M. If Missouri gets on the board early, it will be tough for the Cyclones bounce back and stay in the game.
2. Daniel must return to form
Chase Daniel hasn't struggled, but he hasn't been himself since the win in Lincoln. Although ISU and now KU are looking increasingly easy, it would be nice to see Daniel end his career at Mizzou with a bang.
ISU ranks 11th in the Big 12 and 117th nationally against the pass. They have a small secondary that has only forced two interceptions in their last five games. If Chase can take care of the pig skin and get the air attack going, it could get ugly.
1. Avoid the upset!
This game kinda has USC v. Oregon State written all over it. ISU is a struggling team that traditionally plays well against the Tigers. Look to two years ago, when a phantom holding call as time expired gave the Cyclones a win that dramatically altered the Tigers season. It's not likely that Pinkel and Daniel would let the team look past the Cyclones, but still, they should be taken very seriously.
-Prediction: Missouri 58, Iowa State 24
Iowa State has a quarterback that can hurt you with his legs, so Missouri might have some trouble defending that, but the Tigers should have little trouble here otherwise. They have the advantage in every aspect of the game, and should have no trouble going into Ames and taking the W.