Is this the greatest week in Missouri sports history?
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Let’s run down the checklist.
Mizzou, 6-0 and ranked No. 14, is coming off its first victory over a top 10 opponent on the road since 1981. The triumph at Georgia has catapulted the Tigers into the national spotlight for Saturday’s game against Florida.
The Chiefs, the biggest surprise in the NFL, stand 6-0 for the first time since 2003 with the Houston Texans coming to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
The St. Louis Cardinals are one victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers away from advancing to the World Series. Game six of the National League Championship Series is Friday night in St. Louis.
Now, fans of the Chiefs and Redbirds aren’t likely reveling in each other’s success, but they’re encouraged by the other pro sports teams in their cities: Royals (finished over .500 for the first time in a decade), Rams (3-3 and gunning for first .500 finish since 2006), Blues (4-1-0).
Alas, Carl Edwards is 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, but he is part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Sports-minded Gov. Jay Nixon must be all smiles these days.
Saturday’s Big 12 games
• Texas Tech at West Virginia, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports 1: This was the matchup that started the Mountaineers’ downfall last year. West Virginia had climbed to No. 5 in the polls before getting smashed at Lubbock 49-14. Can coach Dana Holgorsen’s group return the favor against a Tech team that’s 6-0? West Virginia freshman running back Charles Sims is averaging 80 yards per game but he goes against a solid defensive line led by Kerry Hyder.
• TCU at Oklahoma State, 11 a.m., on Fox (Ch. 4): For the second straight year, the Horned Frogs travel to Stillwater and they’re looking for their first road victory of the season. TCU will look for a better start. The Frogs have been outscored 73-44 in first quarters this season. Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh is the team’s rushing leader, which means the Cowboys have a problem with their running game.
• Oklahoma at Kansas, 2:30 p.m. on ESPN: Coach Charlie Weis shook up offensive coaching responsibilities and elevated mobile freshman quarterback Montell Cozart on the depth chart. Anything to jump start an offense that hasn’t scored more than 17 points against a FBS opponent. In essence, Weis demoted himself from offensive coordinator and handed more responsibility to assistants. The Sooners have had their own troubles on offense this season, and they had problems in all phases in the 36-20 loss to Texas.
• Iowa State at Baylor, 6 p.m. on ESPNU: Baylor, ranked 12th has its highest rating since 1991, and the Bears look to go 3-0 in the Big 12 for the first time in its history. Despite scoring “only” 35 at Kansas State last week, Baylor still leads the nation in scoring and total offense averaging 63 points and 715 yards per game. Iowa State has the lowest-ranked defense, yielding 29.8 points and 448 yards. The Cyclones will take those numbers against the Bears.
Saturday’s SEC games
• Georgia at Vanderbilt, 11 a.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): Both teams carry Missouri battle scars into the game. The Tigers won in each team’s previous outing. Georgia’s once-promising season can turn south in a hurry if it doesn’t take care of business in Nashville. The Bulldogs have won 17 of the last 18 in this series, and quarterback Aaron Murray will get a target back this week. Georgia receiver Jonathon Rumph has been cleared to play after missing the first six games because of a hamstring injury.
• South Carolina at Tennessee, 11 a.m. on ESPN: The Gamecocks got the outcome they needed last week when Georgia lost to Missouri. Now, South Carolina controls its SEC East title hopes, but it must overcome a Vols team that’s had an extra week to stew over its near miss against the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks put together a complete game last week in smothering Arkansas, and while we spend plenty of time wondering about Jadeveon Clowney, we’re missing the solid seasons of quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Mike Davis.
• Florida at Missouri, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): The Gators’ backup quarterback has more experience than the Tigers’. Tyler Murphy took over for injured Jeff Driskell a few weeks ago and has played to positive reviews. Maty Mauk gets his first start for Mizzou in place of James Franklin. Look for both defenses to come up big. Florida has been dominant most of the season and is ranked in the top five in nearly all major defensive categories. But Missouri’s defense has been as disruptive as any in the SEC. Funny fact: Columbia is the farthest north Florida will have traveled for a football game since playing at Syracuse in 1991.
• Auburn at Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall sat out last week’s cakewalk over Western Carolina, but he’s ready to put up numbers against the Aggies. Everybody does. But Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel simply outlast opponents. Keep an eye of Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates, who also missed last week’s game but is averaging 24.5 yards per reception.
• Arkansas at Alabama, 6 p.m. on ESPN: Not the opponent a struggling Arkansas team needs to meet. Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen threw for 30 yards in the 52-7 home loss to South Carolina last week. The numbers may drop this week. Arkansas lugs a four-game losing streak into this one. Alabama doesn’t care.
• LSU at Mississippi, 6 p.m. on ESPN2: The Rebels were riding high after a victory at Texas. But with three games in four weeks against teams ranked in the top 10, things were bound to change. They have. Mississippi has lost three straight and now tries to hold serve against an LSU team that has designs on a division championship.