No. 21 Longhorns face chief Big 12 critic Missouri

BY foxsports • November 11, 2011

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel spoke this summer about the unfairness of the Longhorn Network. Texas' ability to televise high school games is an invaluable recruiting tool for a school that already has tons of tradition going for it.

Back in July, when Missouri's future conference destination was unknown, Pinkel complained that the arrangement reflected ''a lack of common sense.''

Well, he doesn't have to worry about that anymore.

One last time as fellow conference members, Missouri (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) takes on No. 21 Texas on Saturday. Whatever differences the schools have, pretty soon it won't matter.

Texas (6-2, 3-2) has squashed its last two opponents at home by a combined score of 95-20, putting the running game into overdrive. It's taken six straight in the series and whipped Missouri in Columbia, Mo., 41-7 in the last meeting in 2009.

So Texas coach Mack Brown can afford to take the high road.

Brown said this week that he liked Pinkel and knew he'd be a good coach when Missouri hired him in 2001, even if he's ''opinionated, like most of us are.'' Brown also said there's plenty for him to worry about other than conference realignment.

''I've got my own problems,'' Brown said. ''My plate's full. I don't get in fights with other coaches.''

As for Missouri's departure, Brown has moved on.

''I don't think you can fault anybody for doing what's best for their university,'' Brown said. ''I think I'm ready for everybody to get settled. I'd like to know what our schedule is going to be next year.''

Pinkel wasn't asked about his opposition to the Longhorn Network at this week's media day, and wouldn't have said much in any case. On-the-field concerns occupy all his time, too.

In the last Big 12 meeting, Pinkel will be trying to beat Texas for the first time. The Tigers will need a smoother effort than in recent weeks.

''As we've been up and down and very inconsistent this year, with three games left some goals we want to accomplish are still there,'' Pinkel said. ''My immediate concern is winning the game. The rest of that stuff, you reflect on later.''

Missouri plays Texas Tech at home next week and finishes against Kansas in Kansas City, and needs to win two of the last three to become bowl eligible for the seventh straight season. Limiting the Longhorns' ground game, which is coming off back-to-back 400-yard rushing games for the first time since 1977, will be a key.

''We really need this win,'' defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. ''Every week is a big game for us, that's how we look at it.''

Texas had 439 yards rushing last week against Texas Tech and did not punt once. Joe Bergeron had 191 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Longhorns had plenty without leading rusher Malcolm Brown, out with a toe injury.

''When you find out who you are, you find out what your offense is, it means a lot,'' guard David Snow said. ''That's kind of our identity now.''

Texas is 11th in the nation with a 246-yard average, and ninth in stopping the run at 94.9 yards per game. The last two weeks, they've outrushed their opponents 880-28, and should test Missouri's equally potent ground game.

The Tigers are 12th in the nation, just 1 yard back of Texas, thanks to sophomore Henry Josey's breakout year quarterback James Franklin's dual threat ability.

Josey leads the Big 12 in rushing and has four straight games of 125 or more yards. Franklin threw three touchdown passes in a fourth-quarter rally that fell three points short at Baylor last week, and is the Tigers' second-leading rusher with 609 yards and 10 touchdowns - one more than Josey.

Missouri's biggest problem has been emerging from the halftime break. The third quarter has been a dud, with only 30 points all season and just 14 in Big 12 play, forcing the Tigers into catchup mode.

''I have a sense of what's going on, but if I had the answer, I would have fixed it four weeks ago,'' Pinkel said. ''You do things in practice to simulate it, you talk about it.

''It gets to a point where you place so much emphasis on it that you almost put a barrier up in front.''

This is only the third road game for Texas, but that hasn't been a problem thus with a pair of victories by a combined 52 points. The Longhorns have won 34 of their last 39 on the road in Big 12 play.

Missouri lost 41-7 at home in 2009 in the last meeting between the schools. The Tigers have extra incentive, with 35 players from Texas on the roster - including 10 projected starters.

Pinkel guessed he had a dozen or so Texas recruits his first season at Missouri in 2001.

''We put four coaches down there and we ended up with six,'' Pinkel said. ''It's really worked well and hopefully will continue to work well as we move on.''

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