Mizzou Must Make Quick Change

By: Kyle Smith

The Sedalia Democrat, Sedalia, Mo.

Oct. 26–The Missouri Tigers’ 4-0 start and national ranking seem so long ago.

The Tigers appeared to be on their way to a 5-0 start when things started to turn ugly in the pouring rain in Columbia.

Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert injured an ankle, limiting his mobility.

Without the fancy footwork, Gabbert threw interceptions on two consecutive plays, and Nebraska took advantage.

Nebraska overcame a 12-0 deficit, scoring 20 points over a 3:22 stretch of the fourth quarter to beat the Tigers 27-12.

Oklahoma State rallied from a 17-14 second-quarter deficit to beat the Tigers 33-17 the following week.

Texas then put a whipping on the Tigers on Saturday night, routing them 41-7.

Despite all that, Mizzou still has a shot — a slim one — to win the Big 12 North but has a better chance at seven or eight wins.

The Tigers have games remaining against four of the five teams ahead of them in the standings.

Mizzou (0-3) will play at Colorado (1-2) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, host Baylor (0-3) on Nov. 7, play at Kansas State (3-1) on Nov. 14, host Iowa State (2-2) on Nov. 21 and play Kansas (1-2) at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 28.

The Tigers are good enough to win all of those games. Their final five opponents have a combined .517 win percentage. Their previous three — Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas — have won 81 percent of their games and were nationally ranked when they faced MU.

Meanwhile, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska have at least one game remaining against a top team from the South division.

If the Tigers want to finish strong, they have plenty on which to improve.

Missouri’s once high-powered offense ranks 11th in league play, averaging only 12 points a game including only three in the second half.

The Tigers’ lack of a running game doesn’t help their cause and makes Gabbert’s life more difficult. They rank ninth in rushing offense, accumulating only 77.7 yards a contest in league play.

Mizzou isn’t any better on defense, giving up the third-most points per game (33.7).

So if the Tigers want to reach a bowl game for the fifth straight year, they must address these problems, play smart football and a fast start on offense against Colorado wouldn’t hurt.