Breaking down what could be a preview of the Big 12 title game ...
Four things you should care about
1. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel is ready for his close-up. At 6-feet, 225 pounds, recruiters deemed Daniel too short and pudgy to be a big-time Division I player, but he's emerged as the best dual-threat QB not named Tim Tebow. The junior is third in the nation in total offense (380 yards per game) and is at the controls of a dynamic attack that's piling up nearly 42 points and 556.6 yards per game (fourth in the country). Daniel's Heisman campaign gained steam after he lit up Nebraska for 473 total yards and four touchdowns -- including a career-high 401 yards passing -- on his 21st birthday last Saturday. The Tigers may be without leading rusher Tony Temple, whose status is up in the air after he sprained his ankle against the Cornhuskers. His absence would more pressure on Daniel, but the player who has Mizzou on a national stage with something to prove doesn't rattle easily.
2. The Tigers defense made strides last weekend. The much-maligned unit that gave up an average of 432 yards to four non-conference opponents seemed to find its footing against Nebraska, allowing 74 yards on 25 rushes. The Huskers were held without a touchdown for the first time since 2004. But the most impressive aspect of Mizzou's performance was the lack of big plays. After allowing 18 plays of 20 or more yards through the first four games of this season, Mizzou did not allow a gain of 20 or more yards through three quarters. The Tigers had to replace six starters this season, including two linebackers. Midway through the year, the LB trio of Van Alexander, Brock Christopher and Sean Weatherspoon appear to be gelling. "I think we're kind of getting into that stage where we learn to trust everybody on the field and we're starting to come together as a unit," Alexander said earlier this week.
3. But this isn't Nebraska. Few offenses have the firepower and balance of the Sooners, who are third in the nation in scoring (49.7 ppg), average 482 yards per game and have 19 TDs passing and 18 rushing. Oklahoma has the nation's most efficient passer in Sam Bradford, who's completing 70.7 percent of his passes. Bradford has no shortage of talent to throw to with Juaquin Iglesias (558 yards, three TDs), Malcom Kelly (454 yards, eight TDs), Jermaine Gresham (178 yards, five TDs) and Joe Jon Finley (135 yards, one TD). Plus he enjoys ADT-like security in a line that's allowed four sacks. The ground game is averaging 5.3 yards a carry with DeMarco Murray (444 yards, nine TDs) and Allen Patrick (411 yards, five scores). The key for OU is Bradford's poise. The redshirt freshman was rattled in the loss to Colorado with the defense in his face all day. But if he has time, he's dangerous.
4. Don't discount history. This series hasn't been kind to the Tigers. Missouri has lost 16 of the last 17 meetings, trailing the Sooners 63-25-3 in the all-time series. Mizzou hasn't won at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium since 1966 (they're 5-29-4 in the unfriendly confines since 1929). OU coach Bob Stoops has a staggering 49-2 record in Norman, outscoring opponents by an average score of 42-11. But the past isn't all slanted in the Sooners' favor. The Tigers' have their highest ranking (No. 11) since 1981, when they rose to eighth. Coincidentally, that season they did beat Oklahoma -- in Columbia.