Kansas State is out to build off its big win over Texas. Missouri is trying to get its season back on track.
There will be a lot on the line at 11:30 a.m. today when the Wildcats take on the Tigers at Faurot Field. Both teams are trying to improve their bowl stock, and pick up a big win before heading into their final two games.
Missouri is undefeated at home this season and is a two-touchdown favorite according to the odds makers. But with K-State’s uncertain quarterback situation and improved defensive play of late, this game is not easy to figure. At the least, it should be closer than Missouri’s 38-12 win over K-State last season.
The Tigers were on top of the college football world three weeks ago after beating Oklahoma 36-27 in front of a frenzied crowd and national television audience.
Two straight losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech have dropped them back a bit.
But this is Missouri’s chance to get its season back on track. It sits at 7-2 at the moment, and is in position to make a quality bowl game. Remaining on the schedule are today’s game against K-State, a road trip to Iowa State and neutral-site tilt with Kansas. The Tigers will likely be favored in all three.
Win them all and Missouri is looking at an improvement on its trip to the Texas Bowl of last year.
In order to get back in the win column, they will need Blaine Gabbert to return to his old form. The strong-armed quarterback played the worst game of his college career last week at Texas Tech, and some in the media suggested he should have been benched in the second half.
Players with his kind of talent don’t usually follow a down game like that with another sub-par performance. He will be out to prove himself with both his arm and feet. K-State defenders say Gabbert is more willing to run the ball this year than he was when they faced him a year ago in Manhattan. Seeing as how Garrett Gilbert ran for nearly 100 yards against K-State last week, the Wildcats will be looking for Gabbert to run quarterback draws as well.
With weapons like T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew to throw to, he will be ready to challenge K-State’s defense.
Missouri’s defense will similarly challenge the Wildcats. The Tigers have allowed an average of 16.3 points per game this season and have been particularly stingy at home. In Columbia, they have allowed a total of 70 points in five games. All have been wins.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE
Will it be Collin Klein, Carson Coffman or both?
That’s the question everyone is asking heading into this game. Klein, a sophomore, led K-State to a big win over Texas thanks to his running abilities. But Coffman had an injured ankle, and Klein was asked to throw only four times all night.
If the Wildcats need to throw more passes against Missouri, Coffman (who coach Bill Snyder says is now healthy) could be inserted back into the lineup. Or Snyder could platoon both QBs. Much like last week, it will be a game-time decision.
The rotation on the defensive line will also be interesting to follow. Last week Snyder used Prizell Brown instead of Brandon Harold at defensive end, and also used Braden Wilson and Trevor Viers on the defensive line. The new lineup provided good results, and K-State’s defensive front helped its secondary grab five interceptions.
Texas ran most of its plays out of five-receiver formations with no running back, and that will help K-State when Missouri runs a similar offense today.
But Missouri’s spread offense is better than what K-State saw last week. It more resembles the Baylor and Oklahoma State offenses that churned out huge yardage against the Wildcats.
This is anything but a must-win game. With Colorado and North Texas still on schedule, it’s reasonable to think the Wildcats can hit the eight-win plateau with or without winning today.
But a victory at Faurot Field could put the Wildcats in the conversation for one of the Big 12′s better bowl games.
When Missouri runs the ball: Missouri
When Missouri throws the ball: Missouri
When K-State runs the ball: K-State
When K-State throws the ball: Missouri
Special teams: K-State
Prediction: Missouri 35, K-State 21