University of Missouri

Missouri vs. Texas A&M preview

Updated: 2013-11-29T00:02:22Z

When/where: 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia

TV/radio: ESPN; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

The series: Texas A&M, 8-5

The line: Missouri by 4 1/2

What’s at stake

With a victory against Texas A&M, Missouri would play the Alabama-Auburn winner for the SEC championship. A win also would give the Tigers 11 wins in a season for only the third time and move coach Gary Pinkel into a tie with Don Faurot for the most wins in program history (101).

Cheers if ...

Missouri scores in bunches, particularly early. Texas A&M and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel are going to make some plays. The Aggies boast the nation’s sixth-best scoring offense (45.6 points per game) and passing offense (356.1), so it’s imperataive that the Tigers keep pace. Texas A&M is 0-2 when trailing at halftime.

Jeers if ...

Manziel carves up Missouri’s defense with his legs. Missouri gave up some chunk plays against Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs and Kentucky’s Jalen Whitlow. Manziel is a much more dangerous runner than either of those quarterbacks. Manziel scored two touchdowns against Missouri last season, so containing him is key.

Three things about Texas A&M

1 Defensively, the Aggies have struggled. Among SEC teams, only Kentucky gives up more points per game than Texas A&M (31.2). The Aggies, who have only 17 sacks (fewer than half of conference-leading Missouri’s 35), rank last in the SEC in rushing defense (221.0 yards per game), total defense (460.1) and 12th in passing defense (239.1). A&M’s one defensive bright spot has been 15 interceptions, second-most behind the Tigers (18).

2 Sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans is as good as it gets. Evans leads the SEC with 1,314 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has caught 61 passes and averages 21.5 yards per reception. Missouri played some press coverage last week at Mississippi, but expect cornerbacks E.J. Gaines and Randy Ponder to get safety help against Evans.

3 Manziel is even better than last season. He reads defenses better and is a more patient playmaker. Manziel is completing a higher percentage of passes for more yards per attempt and already has six more touchdowns (32) than he did during last season’s Hesiman campaign.

Key matchup

Missouri’s defensive ends vs. Texas A&M’s offensive tackles: The Tigers’ defensive end production is staggering. Senior Michael Sam leads the SEC with 17 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks, while junior Markus Golden is third with 12 tackles for a loss, including 5 1/2 sacks. Junior Kony Ealy has 6 1/2 sacks and sophomore Shane Ray owns 4 1/2. That group will have to be disruptive yet disciplined against the Aggies’ bookend tackles, Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi.

Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri, 38-27

There is a lot at stake for Missouri, but the Tigers have shown a propensity for rising to the occasion rather than shrinking from the moment. Texas A&M can put up points in bunches, but so can Missouri. And the Aggies’ defense is mostly terrible. It’s one of the biggest games in Memorial Stadium history and the crowd should be frenzied. There are a lot of signs that point to a Tigers victory.

MISSOURI (10-1, 6-1 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31Murray StateW, 58-14
Sept. 7ToledoW, 38-23
Sept. 21at IndianaW, 45-28
Sept. 28Arkansas StateW, 41-19
Oct. 5at VanderbiltW, 51-28
Oct. 12at GeorgiaW, 41-26
Oct. 19FloridaW, 36-17
Oct. 26South CarolinaL, 27-24 (2OT)
Nov. 2TennesseeW, 31-3
Nov. 9at KentuckyW, 48-17
Nov. 23at MississippiW, 24-10
SaturdayTexas A&M6:45 p.m.

TEXAS A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31RiceW, 52-31
Sept. 7Sam Houston StateW, 65-28
Sept. 14AlabamaL, 49-42
Sept. 21SMUW, 42-13
Sept. 28at ArkansasW, 45-33
Oct. 12at MississippiW, 41-38
Oct. 19AuburnL, 45-41
Oct. 26VanderbiltW, 56-24
Nov. 2UTEPW, 57-7
Nov. 9Mississippi StateW, 51-41
Nov. 23at LSUL, 34-10
Saturdayat Missouri6:45 p.m.

MISSOURI OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR15Dorial Green-Beckham6-6225So.
WR2L’Damian Washington6-4205Sr.
LT68Justin Britt6-6315Sr.
LG61Max Copeland6-3300Sr.
C77Evan Boehm6-3315So.
RG60Connor McGovern6-4310So.
RT65Mitch Morse6-6305Jr.
TE81Eric Waters6-5245Sr.
WR85Marcus Lucas6-5220Sr.
QB1James Franklin6-2230Sr.
RB20Henry Josey5-10190Jr.
K99Andrew Baggett6-1215So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE52Michael Sam6-2255Sr.
DT89Matt Hoch6-5295Jr.
NG96Lucas Vincent6-2305Jr.
DE47Kony Ealy6-5275Jr.
LB10Kentrell Brothers6-1240So.
LB48Andrew Wilson6-3240Sr.
LB8Donovan Bonner6-1245Sr.
CB31E.J. Gaines5-11195Sr.
SS9Braylon Webb6-0205Jr.
FS17Matt White6-0195Sr.
CB7Randy Ponder5-10195Sr.
P92Christian Brinser6-2200Jr.

TEXAS A&M OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR13Mike Evans6-5225So.
LT75Jake Matthews6-5305Sr.
LG51Jarvis Harrison6-4325Jr.
C56Mike Matthews6-2285So.
RG74Germain Ifedi6-5311Fr.
RT70Cedric Ogbuehi6-5300Jr.
WR15Travis Labhart5-9182Sr.
WR11Derel Walker6-2185Sr.
WR84Malcome Kennedy6-0200Jr.
QB2Johnny Manziel6-1200So.
TB1Ben Malena5-9195Sr.
K49Josh Lambo6-0215Jr.

TEXAS A&M DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE72Gavin Stansbury6-4255Jr.
NG99Isaiah Golden6-2310Fr.
DT89Ivan Robinson6-3290Jr.
DE95Julien Obioha6-4255So.
LB16Donnie Baggs6-1230Jr.
LB48Darian Claiborne6-0225Fr.
LB8Steven Jenkins6-2220Sr.
CB1De’Vante Harris6-0185So.
SS31Howard Matthews6-2200Jr.
FS5Floyd Raven Sr.6-2200Jr.
CB29Deshazor Everett6-0185Jr.
P38Drew Kaser6-3205So.

Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

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