This week, I caught up with the inspiration behind “The Flip Side,” Graham Watson, who covers Missouri for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She’s good people, and I recently submitted an entry to her blog, which can be found here.
Anyway, here’s what Ms. Watson had to say:
Mizzou isn’t overlooking Kansas State.
Sorry. Get the thought out of your head. It ain’t happening.
I thought from the beginning of the season that the game at Kansas State would be the Tigers’ toughest of the season. Granted, I didn’t know it would be for a Big 12 North title or a 10-1 record, but I thought it would have serious implications on Missouri’s season.
Chalk that prediction up as a personal victory.
This ain’t your granddaddy’s Missouri. Heck, it ain’t even the Missouri that came into Bill Snyder Family Stadium and saw all its hopes and dreams crushed in the fourth quarter a couple years ago. This is a Missouri team that knows that Kansas State is the one team that stands in its way of a showdown with Kansas. A Border showdown, if you will. And if you think the Tigers are taking that lightly, you haven’t watched this team all season.
I will say this, I think Kansas State is a good team. A little schizophrenic for my tastes, but still has the talent to shock some people, and is probably far better than it’s shown a lot this year. It’s desperate. It needs that sixth win for bowl eligibility.
But Missouri isn’t going to be the Wildcats’ Huckleberry.
The game will stay close early. Kansas State will come out ready to avenge last week’s loss to Nebraska. It will force Missouri into some mistakes, but won’t be able to take advantage of those mistakes. And that’s where the game will turn. You can keep Missouri’s offense quiet for a quarter, as Colorado did a few weeks ago, but unless the Wildcats come strong while they’re holding the Tigers down, Missouri is going to figure things out and make life tough the rest of the way.
I will say this: Jordy Nelson is fantastic. He was my No. 1 on my Biletnikoff ballot. I think he deserves to win the award. He probably deserves to win Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, but I think Todd Reesing and Chase Daniel will be duking that out. Missouri’s at a big loss in coverage on Nelson without Pig Brown. I would not be surprised if he has another 100-plus-yard day. But, I don’t think Kansas State’s running game gets going. I think Freeman plays under constant pressure, and Missouri forces a couple turnovers.
This game is bigger than just Missouri and Kansas State. It’s bigger than the 18-year history where Missouri has never won in Manhattan. This game has Big 12 championship implications, BCS championship implications, and all sorts of bowl scenarios that I’m not even going to attempt to decipher.
Kansas State will want to play spoiler, but they’re at the end of a very long line of teams who have tried. I don’t think the Wildcats are going to show Missouri something it hasn’t seen before.
It would be different if there wasn’t so much history between the programs, and Kansas State hadn’t shocked Texas. Missouri said it wasn’t even going to study the Nebraska tape because the game was such an anomaly. Mizzou is studying the Kansas State team that a lot of people thought it would be. That’s the team Missouri is preparing to play, the team that was supposed to be the darkhorse in the Big 12 North title hunt, not the one that’s lost two games in a row. And that’s probably what’s going to hurt Kansas State the most, the fact that Missouri is preparing for the Wildcats’ former self.
Missouri isn’t overlooking Kansas State. It respects Kansas State and is looking to change a history that has tortured the Mizzou program for far too long. It all goes in cycles. Years ago, it was Kansas State wreaking havoc, now it’s Mizzou’s turn to have some fun.
Prediction: Missouri 48, Kansas State 31
So, what do you all think? Think the Wildcats have a shot?