Before I get to the semi-analysis of this week's game, a nod to Jordy Nelson. The Topeka Capital-Journal has an outstanding article about Nelson. Being someone who came from small-town America, the article really rings true. Count me among those who will do their best to get to the new "Nelson's Landing" sports bar in Riley, Kan., as soon as possible.
Numbers that won't mean anything Saturday but are fun to look at nonetheless...
Josh Freeman, 263/417, 2,841 yards, 14 TDs, 10 INTs
Jordy Nelson, 99 receptions, 1,347 yards, 9 TDs
James Johnson, 143 carries, 843 yards, 6.0 yards per carry, 10 TDs
Chase Daniel, 281/405, 3,306 yards, 26 TDs, 9 INTs
Tony Temple, 111 carries, 559 yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 6 TDs
Martin Rucker, 66 receptions, 671 yards, 5 TDs
As statistically lopsided as the last couple games were in K-State's favor, this one works out exactly the opposite in Mizzou's favor. For a lot more depressing statistics, check out Rock M Nation's analysis. The Pentagon needs to hire those guys...
Let's just go ahead and say it: Mizzou's offense is freakishly good. They put up a lot of yards and a lot of points. If K-State tackles like it did last week, we may give up 70 points--or worse--again, which would be a real embarrassment on Senior Day in Manhattan. Of course, I don't think that will happen, because (a) we ought to see better effort at home on Senior Day than we did last week (or at least I hope so), and (b) Mizzou just might have a little trouble focusing on this week with Armageddon looming in Kansas City two days after Thanksgiving.
Maybe that's wishful thinking, though. This year's Mizzou team hasn't had its traditional late-season meltdown, even though they've had plenty of games where they had an excuse to, see, e.g., Colorado (55-10), Iowa State (42-28), Texas Tech (41-10), and Texas A&M (40-26). We really need this team to wake up and remember they are Mizzou, and bad things just have to be waiting, around the corner, somewhere...
On a final note on this game, I must clarify what I mean when I talk about effort. I don't mean that our players are out there 'not trying,' because obviously they work very hard and (the vast majority of them) want to win very badly. But it only takes a couple guys not holding up there end to make things look very, very bad. We would all be wise to remember that the team, especially on defense, has lost a lot of key players to injuries. As mentioned recently by T. Kyle King over at DawgSports, the value of your team is not measured by the abilities of the players who start on opening day. It is measured by the abilities of the players at every position, at every level of the depth chart, because this is still a violent games, and injuries occur. We have lost some players who just aren't replaceable, at least not at the level of play we saw earlier in the season.
Anyway, on to the rest of the Big 12 slate...
KU vs. Iowa State
I had to laugh every time I read this week that KU needs to beat Mizzou and Oklahoma to have a shot at the national title game. Well, that's true, but if they lose to Iowa State they damn sure won't be playing in New Orleans, even if they do beat Mizzou and OU. The Cyclones have played much better the last two weeks as Gene Chizik appears to be getting results out of the players he was handed. One more factor worth mentioning: Oregon just lost last night to Arizona, meaning the realization that the national title game is one step closer is looming larger for KU. I realize they've handled every challenge thus far, but the pressure is about to increase exponentially in the next few weeks. This time, I think the 'beaks handle it. After this week, I'm not so sure.
Civil War Terrorists 34, Western Hemisphere Tornadoes 17
Oklahoma State @ Baylor
I'm not really sure what to say about this game. It would be just like Okie State to go and lose in Waco, considering how ridiculously inconsistent they've been this year (sound familiar?). For all the great things Mike Gundy's rant ("I'm a man! I'm forty!") was supposed to do for this team, they've won exactly half their games since. Of course, Baylor can't seem to find its butt with both hands in its back pockets, so I'm not sure Okie State could give away this game if they wanted to.
Men! 48, Smoky 24
Oklahoma @ Texas Tech
Ahh, the ironies of this game. Just a couple short years ago, Texas Tech got the benefit of the doubt on a couple 'close' calls and beat the Sooners in Lubbock. This year, the officiating controversy has already occurred, but given the general quality of officiating in the Big 12, we wouldn't rule out another one. The Sooners need to focus on this game with the Bedlam Game and a possible conference championship game to follow. Bob Stoops is usually pretty good at that.
Cheaters 40, Whiners 31