TIGERS REPORT: Missouri facing revamped Arizona State team

Friday, September 14, 2012 | 5:42 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A lot has changed since Missouri and Arizona State last met a year ago.

The Sun Devils beat the Tigers 37-30 in overtime last September in a game that featured a big fourth-quarter comeback by Missouri to force overtime.

Missouri kicker Grant Ressel missed two field goals, including one that could have won the game at the end of regulation, and Arizona State's 6foot-7-inch-tall quarterback Brock Osweiler threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

Now, Ressel and Osweiler are no longer playing college football. Osweiler was drafted by the Denver Broncos over the summer and is now the team's back-up to Peyton Manning. Ressel did not get drafted, but did spend some time at Pittsburgh Steelers rookie camp before being released.

The changes don't end there. Missouri is now a member of the Southeastern Conference, and Arizona State has a new coach. The Sun Devils fired Dennis Erickson after last season and hired Todd Graham, who surprised a lot of people when he took the job and left Pittsburgh after just one year there.

Graham worried about road game, Missouri offense

The way Graham left Pittsburgh raised some red flags, but Graham has given Arizona State fans everything he said he would so far. Arizona State now faces its first road test of the Graham era. The Sun Devils beat Northern Arizona and Illinois in their first two games of the season.

Graham isn't so worried about facing a road-environment nearly as much as he's worried about Missouri's fast-paced offense. He's specifically concerned with slowing down Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who threw for 21 touchdowns last year and ran for 15 more.

Looking back at Missouri's SEC opener

Missouri's first SEC game started well but ended with a forgettable fourth quarter and a 41-20 loss to No. 7 Georgia. Fans are still feeling the disappointment from the loss, but columnists from both ends of the state drew some positives from the loss.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that the atmosphere and intensity of the game against a top-10 team shows just how far Missouri has come since Gary Pinkel took over as coach in 2001.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star sees no reason to overreact to a loss to a very good team, and thinks that Saturday was the start of an uphill climb for the Tigers.

Missouri's T.J. Moe gains yards in the first quarter against Georgia during last week's game at Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Stuart Palley/Missourian)

Conference realignment continues

Missouri is one of many schools to switch conferences during the past few years, and now one of the biggest names in college sports is on the move as well.

Notre Dame joined the conference shuffle Thursday by joining the Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports except football, in which the Fighting Irish will remain independent. The move will take effect no later than 2015. Until then, Notre Dame will remain a member of the Big East for all sports except football.

The arrangement between the ACC and Notre Dame will allow Notre Dame access to the ACC's bowl games, and includes a caveat that the Fighting Irish will play five games against ACC teams every year. The deal gives Notre Dame a more stable conference home and will give the ACC a big national following to add to its audience.

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution thinks that this move is a precursor to Notre Dame eventually joining the ACC for football.

Supervising editor is Frank Russell.

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