October 5, 2007

Preview and prediction: Tigers vs Huskers

Each week, PowerMizzou.com will do a joint breakdown of the Tigers' upcoming game with someone who covers Missouri's opponent on Thursday. But on Friday, we take things in-house. Here is the exclusive PowerMizzou.com breakdown of Saturday's showdown against Nebraska:

Missouri Keys to the Game

Again, control the emotion. You can get too high. I think that has been a focus of the Tiger coaches all year long. Next, Missouri has to play the third quarter. It will not be surprising for the Tigers to be up two touchdowns at halftime (they have been in every other game). But they cannot allow Nebraska back in it in the third quarter. If they take the Illinois or Ole Miss approach, it is very likely to burn them. Finally, Daniel has to play his best game. If he does, Missouri wins. If he is off, the Tigers could be looking at their first loss of the season. Nebraska saw his worst performance of the year last year and Missouri was never really in that game. He has to bring his best on Saturday night.

Nebraska Keys to the Game

Get Lucky going and control the clock. Bill Callahan had a fantastic game plan against the Tigers last year and it worked to perfection. Nebraska needs to hold the ball for 36 minutes or more to win this one. Next, the Huskers have to be able to forget one play and move on quickly. The Tigers will score. They will get some big plays. If Nebraska's defense starts thinking "Here we go again," it will spell big time trouble for the Huskers. Finally, Nebraska has to hold on to the ball. If the Tigers win the turnover battle, even by one, they win the game. Mizzou's offense is good enough. Keller can't give them short fields. He has averaged nearly two turnovers a game. If he turns it over twice here, Nebraska's chances go down significantly.

The Wild Card

Each week, we will select one player who could have a huge impact on the game all by himself. Sometimes it will be an obvious choice, sometimes a little more below the radar. This week, we are going with Will Franklin. He was the Tigers' best receiver a year ago and one of the best in the Big 12. But with the starts of Martin Rucker and Jeremy Maclin and the return of Alexander, no one is mentioning Franklin. He had 105 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against Ole Miss. He is good enough to absolutely go off in this game. If he does, it's trouble for the Huskers because Missouri has so many other weapons to use.

Final Analysis

Everybody thinks this will be a shootout. So often when that happens, things go the other way and you have a 17-14 game. Not this time. The offenses are very, very good and the defenses are, well, not. Both teams will move the ball. But ultimately, Daniel is at home and he takes care of the ball just a little bit better, in my opinion. Daniel, whether he admits it or not, has to be driven to show Nebraska and Oklahoma that what they saw last year was an aberration. I see a big play by the Tiger defense turning the tide early. The final score will be closer than the actual game.

Prediction: Missouri 45, Nebraska 35

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