Friday, October 19, 2007

Missouri vs. Texas Tech shapes up as high-scoring affair

AP Sports Writer

Missouri vows it's over a big letdown, and with good reason. There's no time for the Tigers to sulk over an Oklahoma loss that was their shot to crack the Top 10 for the first time since the 1960s, not with No. 22 Texas Tech next on the schedule.

``Honestly, I don't have a concern at all,'' coach Gary Pinkel said. ``We've got pretty good kids and we've got good leadership.

``I'd be very disappointed if we don't come out and play at a very high level.''

Missouri (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) had been 11th before the 41-31 loss at Oklahoma, which vaulted the Sooners to fourth and knocked the Tigers into a tie with Kansas for 15th. There's plenty left to play for, given the Big 12 North is up for grabs.

Texas Tech (6-1, 2-1) is in the rankings for the first time since the middle of last season after a 35-7 victory over Texas A&M last week, propelled by the nation's most prolific passing attack. The Red Raiders are in a four-way tie for first place in the South.

Both programs can thank a high-potency spread offense that compensates for generally token resistance on defense. Quarterback Graham Harrell has 31 touchdown passes for Texas Tech, 17 going to redshirt freshman Michael Crabtree, while Missouri's Chase Daniel is fifth in the nation in total offense and has passed for 300 yards eight of the last nine games.

Daniel leads a much more balanced attack that also features running back Tony Temple, expected back after missing the Oklahoma game with a sprained ankle. Temple has 351 yards and a 4.9-yard average and redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclin is fourth in the nation with an average of 210 all-purpose yards. Martin Rucker leads the nation's tight ends with seven catches per game and the other tight end, Chase Coffman, caught 10 passes at Oklahoma.

Missouri is a slight favorite to win a high-scoring pointfest. The Tigers have won 12 of the last 13 at home, dismantling Nebraska 41-6 two weeks ago, and a second straight sellout is anticipated for homecoming.

It'll be the third straight game with both teams ranked for Missouri, which won for the first time in that scenario since 1978 with the victory over the Huskers.

Texas Tech expects Missouri to be motivated for a rebound. Texas Tech's Harrell recalls punishing Northwestern State 75-7 the week after the Red Raiders' last-minute 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State.

``I think when someone comes off a big loss, they're a tough team to play always,'' Harrell said. ``We're going to have to go in there and match their hunger, match their enthusiasm.''

Harrell has thrown only three interceptions and leads the nation with 445.7 total offense per game, dwarfing Daniel's 16 TD passes and 377-yard production for Missouri. Crabtree averages a nation-best 11 catches for 178 yards with 17 touchdowns, although he was held without a score for the first time last week.

Crabtree leads the nation in scoring with 102 points and has 1,244 yards receiving, 21 shy of the NCAA freshman record set by Mike Williams of USC in 2002. He already holds the NCAA record with 17 touchdown catches by a freshman.

Motivation for Texas Tech, besides continuing momentum, is responding to a 38-21 loss to Missouri at home last year.

``They came in and just outplayed us,'' Harrell said. ``It was kind of the low point in the season because the next week we went to Colorado and got beat again.

``Right now we're playing pretty well, and we need to keep playing well.''

Texas Tech presents a huge challenge for a Missouri defense that has struggled to hold down scores much of the season.

``They're going to get their yards,'' Pinkel said. ``Hopefully we can keep the points lower than what their average is. Their average is pretty staggering.''

The Red Raiders have played complete games, lately, holding the last three opponents to an average of 257 yards and 10.3 points. That stretch has allowed Texas Tech to become bowl-eligible for the 15th straight season.

Source:; Photo Credit: Mizzou Media Relations