Missouri Tigers Football: 5 Reasons They Will Win the Big 12 in 2011

Shane PattonCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2011

Missouri Tigers Football: 5 Reasons They Will Win the Big 12 in 2011

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    The Missouri Tigers are ranked No. 21 in the USA Today preseason poll.

    Many media outlets outside of Missouri believe the Tigers will struggle without quarterback Blaine Gabbert and defensive end Aldon Smith (both first-round draft picks in the 2011 NFL draft).

    After some preseason research, here are my top five reasons Mizzou will win the Big 12 title this season.

Head Coach Gary Pinkel

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    Coach Pinkel has guided the Tigers to three 10-win seasons in the last four years, with his 2010 team finishing 10-3 overall.

    Pinkel ranks third on Mizzou’s all-time coaching wins list, boasting a 77-49 record.

    With his ability to find new talent and reload, Pinkel will have the Tigers ready to vie for the Big 12 championship in 2011.

DT Sheldon Richardson

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    Richardson is an explosive defensive lineman with the unique ability to play several different DL positions.

    A 5-star recruit out of high school, Richardson is an immediate impact player on an already stacked Tiger defensive line.

DE Brad Madison

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    Now that defensive end Aldon Smith has left for the NFL, it is time for Brad Madison to have a breakout season.

    With the increased snaps afforded a starter, the coaching staff will expect even more from Madison, who led the Tigers in sacks in 2010.

WR T.J. Moe

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    T.J. Moe helped propel former MU quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the NFL with his 2010 breakout performance.

    In his first year as a starter, Moe caught 92 passes for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns. With Moe's knack for getting open, the Tigers' transition from Gabbert to James Franklin should be a smooth one.

RB Henry Josey

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    The Tigers have used a running back by committee approach for a couple of years now, but sophomore running back Henry Josey could change that.

    Rushing for over 400 yards on just 76 carries, Josey has the explosiveness to score each time he touches the ball.

    Now that he is more comfortable in Missouri's offense, look for Josey to settle in as the Tigers starter by Week 3.