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
Whats 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 nations sixth-best scoring offense (45.6 points per game) and passing offense (356.1), so its imperataive that the Tigers keep pace. Texas A&M is 0-2 when trailing at halftime.
Jeers if ...
Manziel carves up Missouris defense with his legs. Missouri gave up some chunk plays against Tennessees Josh Dobbs and Kentuckys 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 Missouris 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&Ms 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 seasons Hesiman campaign.
Missouris defensive ends vs. Texas A&Ms 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 Palmers 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. Its 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)
|Aug. 31||Murray State||W, 58-14|
|Sept. 7||Toledo||W, 38-23|
|Sept. 21||at Indiana||W, 45-28|
|Sept. 28||Arkansas State||W, 41-19|
|Oct. 5||at Vanderbilt||W, 51-28|
|Oct. 12||at Georgia||W, 41-26|
|Oct. 19||Florida||W, 36-17|
|Oct. 26||South Carolina||L, 27-24 (2OT)|
|Nov. 2||Tennessee||W, 31-3|
|Nov. 9||at Kentucky||W, 48-17|
|Nov. 23||at Mississippi||W, 24-10|
|Saturday||Texas A&M||6:45 p.m.|
TEXAS A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Rice||W, 52-31|
|Sept. 7||Sam Houston State||W, 65-28|
|Sept. 14||Alabama||L, 49-42|
|Sept. 21||SMU||W, 42-13|
|Sept. 28||at Arkansas||W, 45-33|
|Oct. 12||at Mississippi||W, 41-38|
|Oct. 19||Auburn||L, 45-41|
|Oct. 26||Vanderbilt||W, 56-24|
|Nov. 2||UTEP||W, 57-7|
|Nov. 9||Mississippi State||W, 51-41|
|Nov. 23||at LSU||L, 34-10|
|Saturday||at Missouri||6:45 p.m.|
TEXAS A&M OFFENSE
TEXAS A&M DEFENSE
|FS||5||Floyd Raven Sr.||6-2||200||Jr.|
Tod Palmer, email@example.com