Missouri Football: 10 Things You Need to Know About Texas
The image is still vivid in my mind. The last time the Tigers and the Longhorns met it was homecoming on campus in Missouri and the fans were psyched.
The Tigers got waxed, 41-7. It was 2009.
This year, however, is different in a way.
The Tigers are a team that most like to consider as, "the best, worst team." And coming off an inspiring loss (if there's such thing), the Tigers are desperate to capture a victory.
Now, in 2011, the Longhorns at 6-2 are set to return to Columbia.
Here are a few things you should know about them as you prepare for Saturday's showdown.
Their Running Game
The Longhorns have a very impressive young running game highlighted by two true freshman backs—Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.
When you add in senior Fozzy Whittaker and mobile quarterback David Ash, the Longhorns possess one of the most unstoppable ground attacks in college football.
On the season, they rank 11th in the nation in rushing yards, averaging 246.4 yards per contest on the ground.
Missouri needs to be prepared for this bunch going into Saturday, seeing as they just lit Texas Tech up to the tune of 439 yards, and that was without their leading rusher, Malcolm Brown.
They Rarely Throw the Ball
Piggy-backing off my last slide, who needs to throw the ball when you can run it for 250 yards per game?
Texas quarterback David Ash has taken the reigns in Austin and hasn't looked back after proving he was the true starter over Case McCoy and former starter Garrett Gilbert.
Texas really relies on their running game to get them into 3rd-and-short situations to avoid giving Ash the added pressure of converting key long first downs.
I'm still not sold on David Ash, so if the Tigers get ahead, his inexperience could be something they feast on.
In the only two games this season where David Ash has been required to throw the ball at least 20 times, he has four interceptions.
Capitalize on that and I like the Tigers' chances.
Texas Tech Is Their Most Impressive Win
Texas' schedule has been rather light thus far, and that's saying it lightly.
I will admit, they have taken care of the teams they were supposed to take care of, so I can't knock them for that. But to this point, there is not doubt that their best win came against Texas Tech.
Texas has compiled six wins against two losses so far this season, with their two losses coming against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
With the meat of their schedule coming up in the next four weeks, the way they manhandled Texas Tech will be a useful momentum they can build upon in the coming weeks.
This Is Only Their Third Road Game This Season
The reason I find importance in this is because we haven't truly seen what Longhorns team will show up when facing adversity in a hostile environment.
Their two previous away games—at UCLA and Iowa State—are hardly the page-turners, and the Longhorns handled both teams with ease.
Mizzou at Faurot will be a different story.
Texas has seen its offense attack the opposing red zone 40 times this year, and to the dismay of many, failed to register any points on 10 of those trips.
The 75 percent conversion rate is 99th-best in the nation.
Not only do the 'Horns struggle to score period, of the 30 conversions, only 22 of them go for touchdowns.
If Missouri can make a stand or two when backed up in its red zone, they can really change the tides of this football game.
Texas Has Won 6 Straight
When Texas trounced the Tigers in 2009, it marked the Longhorns' sixth consecutive victory against Missouri.
Missouri would love nothing more than to beat up on the 'Horns in their final meeting as conference foes. Especially because it's widely believed that the reason for the Big 12's instability is because of Texas' overpowering attitude.
Mack Brown has certainly left his legacy at the University of Texas, and many people credit him for revitalizing the Longhorns program.
He's accumulated a 137-35 record over his 13 years in Austin, including his 2005 National Championship over USC.
Brown is a fantastic recruiter, among other things, and he really understands how to get the best out of players.
Foswhitt Whittaker, otherwise known as "Fozzy," is a senior running back from the state of Texas and has had a productive career for the Longhorns the past four years.
This year, however, he's arguably more dangerous for what he does in the kicking and field position game rather than in the running game.
Whittaker leads the NCAA with an average of 42.4 yards per return and also has two return touchdowns.
Whittaker's skills as a return man will provide short fields for the Texas offense, which will end up putting pressure on a weaker Tigers defense.
The Defense Is Stout
Texas' defense has really come on strong in the 2011 season, after completely blowing the bit in the 2010 campaign. The Longhorns defense is giving up just over three touchdowns a game, which is good for top 30 in the nation.
Led by senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho, the defense loves to put pressure on the quarterback.
In the last two weeks, the unit has shut out Kansas and also held the nation's No. 3 passing offense, Texas Tech, in check for the most part—only allowing 20 points to Seth Doege and the Red Raiders.
You can expect that Mack Brown will have this bunch hyped and ready to try and contain Mizzou quarterback James Franklin.
Turnover Margin: 0
A turnover margin of zero has to keep Mack Brown sleeping well at night considering how unsettling his overall quarterback play has been throughout the entire season.
I'm equally surprised, considering that I thought this team would be minus-20 after watching that Oklahoma game, but they have seemed to bounce back in a big way.
The ratio is 15-to-15 in terms of takeaways to giveaways, so it's clear that the defense is doing its part.
Missouri will have to protect the ball against this Texas unit in order to keep the ball in Henry Josey's hands, but you best believe that Texas will be gunning to force takeaways and give the offense every shot of taking down the Tigers.