Do you know where you will be at 4:30 MT? I wish Gary Pinkel would have said 5:30 pm Central time in his "attempt to motivate" speech this week. I keep telling people the game is at 5:30 pm but no Buffs fans, if you live in the Mountain time zone, the game is at 4:30 pm this Saturday. 3:30 pm for you Pacific Time folks and a late 6:30 pm for you East Coasters. I am sick of it too but it as at least comical that Mizzou is putting this much focus on the Buffs this week and not the previous two. And you know what, Buffs fans need some comedy as we might not want 4:30 pm to come on Saturday because currently the Buffs are 24.5 point underdogs to the Tigers. Do I think the Buffs will lose by 24.5? No. I am convinced the defense for the Buffs is better than most give it credit for. Last time I checked, Kansas ranks 6th and Kansas St. ranks 20th in college football in passing. I also saw what Noel Devine and the Mountaineer rushing attack did to one of those strong SEC defenses last night in Auburn. I may be wrong but I am pretty confident the Buffs will not give up 55 points like they did last year. That being said, the Buffs have not faced a trio like QB Chase Daniel, RB Jeremy Maclin and TE Chase Coffman this year. Coffman being the X factor in my opinion. Kansas and KState had a good quarterback like Daniel but no one has had a tight end like Coffman. No one in America might have a better utilized tight end. Then you throw in a capable back like Derrick Washington, Mizzou has some serious fire power. CU's defense will definitely be challenged. Look for Cha'pelle Brown to D up Maclin for most of the game with help over the top from Walters. Hopefully, Walters can line up a good hit on Maclin. That would help the Buffs chances. The big conundrum will be who is going to stick with Chase Coffman?
When CU has the ball, they are facing a team in Mizzou that ranks 100th in total defense and 114th in passing defense. Most are now just realizing the problems with Mizzou's defense after two loses but this Missouri defense has had problems all year, giving up 5.3 yards a play and if you remove the teams they have played that don't have a pulse, the Tigers are giving up over 6.4 yards/play. Juice Williams of Illinois threw for 451 yards against them. All year teams have had success throwing on Mizzou and the last two weeks, they have been porous against the run giving up an average of 195 per game on the ground. Sounds great, right? Sounds similar right? It should sound like the preview to Kansas State last week. In case you needed to be reminded, the Buffs scored 14 points last week against the 12th ranked defense in the Big 12 even though CU dominated the time of possession and the overall flow of the game. It's about points in this wonderful game and the Buffs aren't putting it in the end zone enough to really get excited about a possible upset this week. Currently CU's offense ranks dead last in the Big 12 mostly because of a deficient passing game. Again, we will be asking the question: what gives this week, the 12th ranked passing offense or the 12th ranked passing defense?
But if the Buffs were to defy the odds, literally, here are The Ralphie Report's "Keys to the Game." Remember how money they were last week, with the Buffs getting high grades on 4 out of 5 on their way to victory. This week, the Buffs need high grades in all five categories.
Keys to the Game after the jump...
Stop the Missouri Running Game:
This is the same story as last week. Chase Daniel will get his. The Buffs can give up the three touchdown passes to him and still be in this game. What the Buffs can't do is let Daniel and Derrick Washington get the running game going. The stats don't lie on this one. Games where Missouri has won: they averaged 193 yards on the ground. Games they have lost: 47 yards. If Daniel can get a play action game going, he and Washington have the chance to blow out the Buffs. Stop the rushing attack. Same thing as Kansas State game preview. It's like I said in today's Buff Bites, Mizzou loses when the don't feature the running game.
The Air Up There:
So most of you are in favor of running the ball a ton this week. Yes, it is important to establish a run but this Mizzou defense can't stop the pass. The Buffs have to be able to make headway through the passing game. Which means play Tyler Hansen the whole game. He has a better arm, better play making ability and can throw a pass from the pocket. The Buffs have to challenge through the air early and often. The way I look at it, most think this is going to be a 55 - 10 game again. Running the ball 50 times might make it 40 - 10 but it won't get the Buffs any closer to winning this game. Let the kid wing it around and be damned if he throws 5 picks. But if he gets hot and exposes a defense that is giving up 287 yards a game, the Buffs may just score more than 14 points this week. Mizzou is a superior team, to beat a superior team you have to do superior things.
Account for Chase Coffman:
No I don't have a man crush on Missouri TE Chase Coffman. But I do respect the man's ability and the nightmares he gave the Buffs offense last year and Texas this year. He scored three touchdowns against the Buffs in the 55 - 10 rout. I don't know what Buffs covers him, maybe they assign LB Brad Jones or Shaun Mohler on him or they may even bring in a guy like CB Jimmy Smith to try and body him up with his size. All I know is you better make Coffman's life miserable. A heavy dose of chucking him at the line and changing the way he runs his route is in order. Mizzou does not want to be physical on offense. Bring the physicality of the game to them and the Buffs will find success.
7 points not 3 points/Win the Special Teams Battle:
This is more of a plea for the special teams rather than a plea for more offensive scoring. The Buffs offense cannot settle for field goals. Aric Goodman has not gotten it done and I have no reason to think that Dan Hawkins' confidence in him will change his fate. Even if we had the best kicker in the game, field goal attempts won't cut it this week. And while we are on the subject of special teams, if Josh Smith wants to compare himself to Jeremy Maclin, he can start by outplaying him on special teams. Maclin currently ranks 2nd in the NCAA in all purpose yards while Josh Smith ranks 17th. Maclin cannot get lose on special teams.
Challenge the Will of Mizzou:
Is Chase Daniel a head case? Is Missouri mentally tough? You want an answer to those questions. Score 14 points really early on the Tigers and they may just fold. With all the talk about 5:30CT/4:30MT/3:30PT/6:30ET and getting a fast start this week, if the Buffs can roll early, maybe get a punt return for a touchdown or a big play from Stewart, who knows how the Tigers will respond. You can tell when things aren't going well for Mizzou when Daniel starts sulking on the sideline. Get him quiet and the Buffs have a shot.
I am going to stick with what I said earlier in our Q&A with Rock M Nation: Buffs 13 - Missouri 31. No, I don't think the Buffs will give up 55 on defense and I think the Buffs have the capability to stop the run. No, I don't think the Buffs offense will get better against Missouri. I just don't see enough playmakers on this CU team to get the ball rolling to pull a big upset. But if Hansen starts throwing the ball well and the Buffs stop the Mizzou rushing game, I can see the Buffs being in this game until the very end.