COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team is ready to have fun again.
The Tigers had to play a tougher brand of football the past two weeks against Oklahoma and Nebraska, a throwback to the way football was played in the Big 8 Conference.
No. 14 Missouri (7-1, 3-1 Big 12)
at Texas Tech (4-4, 2-4)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Jones Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, KCMQ/96.7 FM
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert is averaging 9.2 yards per rush and 262.2 yards passing, and has three receivers averaging at least 64 yards per game (Michael Egnew, T.J. Moe and Jerrell Jackson).
Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts isn't a threat on the ground but is averaging 298 yards passing. He was replaced last week in the fourth quarter by Steven Sheffield, who may get the start.
"The last two games have been extremely physical," senior linebacker Andrew Gachkar said. "More physical than any games I have been in."
Missouri, a team built on speed and skill, went 1-1 against the corn-fed big boys of the Plains. This week, the Tigers will get back to something normal, something faster, something that's more fun for them to watch and play.
Because when the Tigers and the Red Raiders get together, both teams' spread offenses hint at the possibility of a West Texas shootout.
Missouri wide receiver Jerrell Jackson predicts "video game" numbers for this weekend's game, a prediction that both offenses can provide.
"It's going to be fun," Jackson said. "It might be a shootout, a high scoring game. It has the potential to be. It's going to be fun to watch."
After two weeks of punch-you-in-the-mouth football, sophomore T.J. Moe agrees this weekend's game will be a nice change of pace.
"Especially as a wide receiver, for me, it's fun to see somebody sling it around, then come to the sidelines and see them sling it around," Moe said. "It's fun for the fans. It's fun for us."
The Tigers' defense is reeling after allowing 454 yards to Nebraska, but going up against Texas Tech's air raid offense proves a perfect opportunity for redemption.
Nebraska only threw the ball 12 times last week in Lincoln. Twelve passes could be thrown on Texas Tech's first drive this Saturday.
"Saturday is going to be a lot of fun — there's going to be about 100 balls thrown on both sides of the ball," cornerback Kip Edwards said. "The game is going to be won in the secondary."
Some defenses stress over playing a spread offense. Not Missouri. The Tigers' defense sees the spread every practice, and they know how to stop it.
"We play against our offense in practice all the time, so it's not going to be anything new," Gachkar said. "The other thing people have to remember is that Texas Tech plays their offense every day, too. So it's two same teams going up against each other, so it's going to be a good matchup of athletes going against athletes."
Although the Tigers are happy to get back to playing their preferred style of fast-paced football, they learned some things from the physical play of the past two weeks that could be the difference in Saturday's game.
"It should be a real fast-paced game, but we're still going to try to play physical, punch them in the mouth, trying to out dominate their (defensive backs)." Jackson said. "Because that's what coach preaches about — the most physical team wins."
The defense is also trying to blend their speed with power.
"I just expect Missouri to be the more physical team," Edwards said. "I think we can play any type of game. We can play smash-mouth, or we can play with spreading us out and throwing it all over the field."
Texas Tech has struggled to a 4-4 record this season. Even so, Moe is quick to quell the notion that Saturday's game will be easy for Missouri.
"We think our defense can stop them, just like their defense thinks they can stop us," Moe said. "We want to win 100-0, just like they do."
Edwards, rarely one for humility, agrees with Moe.
"You can't be on that high horse," Edwards said. "It really doesn't matter who our opponent is, really we're just trying to get back on the winning side. ... I just feel like we're going to come out. We're going to play a lot harder. We're going to play for each other. We're going to have a lot more fun."