When I was a kid, I loved that game. A friend of mine had it - he seemed to have everything. He always won. It taught me that you never go into a guy's house and play his game on his turf and expect to win. If you did, it was cause for a celebration. Not a gloating, in your face celebration, but a quiet "I can do it" kind of celebration that inspires confidence for the next time you meet.
We asked the guys at Rock M Nation about the game. Hopefully it will be Missouri's robot head popping up first Saturday night.
- How big is this game for Missouri fans?
I hate it when teams classify conferences games as "their Super Bowl," and I don't think the game quite reaches that status. But I think it is safe to say this is the most important game of the Gary Pinkel tenure. Mizzou enters ranked in the top 20, favored over a division rival at home on national TV, picked by many to finally break through and win the division. We all know it would be WAY too Missouri-like to drop this one, but the magnitude of what this game means to this program and to the fans is beyond anything I've seenin recent memory.
- How would you describe how Missouri fans feel about Tiger football this season? Wait and see? More worried about basketball season?
Heading into the season, the feeling was one of cautious optimism. Fans had the notion of "If everything goes right and goes the way it should, it could be a special year." But as time has progressed and we've seen what other North teams have to offer, that feeling has fluctuated to different extremes. A lot of Missouri fans looked at Kansas' cupcakes, Nebraska's Ball State debacle and Colorado' poor performance against FSU and said "a trip to San Antonio is wrapped up." Last week may have tempered that enthusiasm a little bit, especially with trip to Manhattan and Boulder on the schedule. As a whole though, expectations are high and the resulting optimism from Missouri fans has been exciting.
- In your recent power poll, you ranked us eighth in the conference. Justify that ranking.
It's not so much that I think Nebraska is the eighth-best team in the conference, just like I truly don't believe Kansas is the fourth-best in the conference. I guess it's fitting as a blogger in the "Show Me State" that my rankings rankings last week were based on what I need to be shown.
I'm waiting for Nebraska to wake up and get their act together and they will definitely rise in the poll. I'm waiting for Kansas to wake up, play a legitimate opponent, and likely drop in my poll. In all honesty, the No. 8 spot was punishment for the Ball State incident and letting Iowa State hang around in the first half, but I do believe the Huskers are far better than No. 8, and a good showing this weekend (even if it's a loss) will likely result in me moving the Huskers up significantly.
-- Both defenses are below average at best. The Tigers haven't faced an opponent with a high-powered offense. How do you see the Tigers stopping Nebraska's offense?
I think a lot of our success will depend on game planning by Callahan. If the Huskers try to sit Keller in the pocket and look for intermediate routes, the Tigers have a very good chance at adapting and creating some turnovers. But what scares me the most is Marlon Lucky. Mizzou has made stars out of Rashard Mendenhall, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and a FCS running back named Geno Blow. CN: Ha! This is nice to hear, ain't it!
Am I supposed to think that all that ails the Mizzou run defense will cure itself in time to shut down Lucky? If Callahan is smart (we won't touch this any further), he'd give the ball to Lucky 30 times up the gut, on stretch plays, on toss plays, on screens - any way you can exploit a Mizzou defensive line that gets blown off the ball. But I do believe the game will come down to turnovers, and for all the points and yards the Tigers have surrendered, the D has done a solid job this year of getting turnovers and stops when they really needed them.