Missouri is balanced on the ground and in the air. Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy are all threats, and Josey’s 57-yard touchdown burst for the game-winner against Texas A was a season highlight. Auburn ranks 56th nationally against the run, allowing 157 yards per game.
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|Missouri’s top rusher||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
Missouri throws more often the Auburn, which has one of the nation’s top ground attacks. Quarterback James Franklin has been terrific throughout the season, and the Tigers don’t drop when Maty Mauk gets snaps. The wide receivers are a big weapon. Dorial Green-Beckam, L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas are the primary targets and look for Missouri to use them often.
|Missouri’s top QB||C||A||Yds.||TD-I|
|Missouri’s top WR||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
This is Auburn’s strength. Tre Mason is the SEC rushing leader and has scored a rushing touchdown in each of the last nine games. Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne also carry the load, and quarterback Nick Marshall has run the zone-read option to near perfection. But Missouri is strong against the run, holding all 12 opponents under their season rushing total.
|Auburn’s top rusher||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
Auburn has been effective throwing, but its game plan is to establish the run and stick with it. Marshall has a great arm and completes 59.2 percent. Missouri’s 18 interceptions tops the SEC and is a big factor in Mizzou leading the conference in turnover margin at plus-1.5 per game.
|Auburn’s top QB||C||A||Yds.||TD-I|
|Auburn’s top WR||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
The big advantage for Auburn is in the return game, right Alabama? Chris Davis, who returned a missed field goal for the game-winning touchdown against the Crimson Tide, averages 20.5 yards per punt return. Tre Mason averages 26.3 yards per kick return. Missouri’s Marcus Murphy is capable of big returns, but he hasn’t busted one this season.Coaching EDGE >> MISSOURI
The edge goes to Gary Pinkel only because of his experience in these games. He has been here before as a head coach, falling twice in Big 12 title games. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn has has a remarkable season and owns the inside track over Pinkel and Duke’s David Cutcliffe for national coach of the year. And Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for Auburn’s SEC title game victory over South Carolina in 2010.X-factor EDGE >> MISSOURI
You’ve heard it all week. Can Auburn come down from the Alabama victory? Missouri couldn’t in 2007 when it beat Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium and would have played for the national title had it beaten Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Mizzou has been steady throughout the season, one bad quarter away from being undefeated.Bottom line: Missouri 33-28
This is good matchup for Missouri, which should be able to slow Auburn’s running game and gain offensive yards in chunks. A key for Mizzou: Don’t settle for field-goal attempts. Auburn’s red-zone defense is among the nation’s best. Missouri needs to play to its strengths, going over the top to its terrific wide outs. But if it comes down to a miracle moment, advantage Auburn.Blair Kerkhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org