Texas-Missouri Preview

BY foxsports • November 8, 2011

Texas has taken advantage of two of the worst rushing defenses in the country to return to the national rankings and avoid a repeat of last season's late collapse.

In their attempt to clinch a winning record Saturday, the No. 21 Longhorns will visit a Missouri team that struggled defensively in its last game but recently used its strong rushing attack to upset another ranked opponent from the Lone Star state.

Texas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) topped 400 yards on the ground in back-to-back games for the first time since 1977 during wins over Kansas and Texas Tech the last two weeks.

Bouncing back triumphantly from consecutive defeats also likely calmed fears that the Longhorns might repeat last season's 2-7 finish, which led to their first losing record in 13 years.

"I told the guys, 'Let's stop taking about six (wins) now. Let's talk about 10,'" coach Mack Brown said following last week's 52-20 rout of Texas Tech. "We had 439 rushing yards. If you can continue to get numbers like that, you have a chance."

Texas will next face a Missouri team that yielded 686 yards - 64 shy of matching a program high - in a 42-39 loss at Baylor last Saturday. The Tigers (4-5, 2-4) have given up 500 yards or more in each of their last three games but rallied for a 38-31 victory at then-No. 16 Texas A&M on Oct. 29.

Missouri is also expected to have Big 12 leading rusher Henry Josey back at full strength. The sophomore had 132 yards - giving him 1,149 this season - and two touchdowns against Baylor, but he had only five carries in the second half after injuring his shoulder.

"He's a pretty special kid," receiver T.J. Moe said. "At some point in the game, he breaks off a 40-yard run. ... We kind of expect him to break one."

Josey had 162 yards and a touchdown against Texas A&M and sophomore quarterback James Franklin accounted for 295 total yards and four TDs. Franklin passed for a career-high 325 yards and three touchdowns versus Baylor and had another 57 on the ground.

Missouri ranks second in the Big 12 with 244.9 rushing yards per game, 1.5 fewer than Texas. Longhorns freshman Joe Bergeron has helped maintain that average by gaining 327 yards over the last two games.

With leading rusher Malcolm Brown dealing with a toe injury, Bergeron had 191 yards and three TDs against Texas Tech, and Fozzy Whittaker added 83 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown, who has 657 yards this season, is expected to wear a walking boot when heading to class this week, but Mack Brown said the freshman might be healthy enough to play Saturday. The Longhorns are also hoping to get one of their top receivers, Jaxon Shipley, back from a right knee injury.

Shipley's brother, Jordan, had 108 yards and two touchdowns during the previous matchup with Missouri, a 41-7 rout in Columbia in 2009. Whittaker also scored an early TD during Texas' sixth consecutive victory in the series.

The Tigers will likely have some extra motivation Saturday in trying to move a step closer toward becoming bowl eligible for the seventh straight year, while also looking to bounce back after having a 10-game win streak at home snapped the last time they took the field at Memorial Stadium.

Missouri suffered a 45-24 defeat against then-No. 6 Oklahoma State on Oct. 22 and has been outscored 127-43 in three consecutive home losses to Texas, which was ranked in the top 10 in each of those games.

The Longhorns hold a 17-5 lead in the series entering what might be the last matchup for a while with Missouri heading to the SEC next season.

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