Two factors favor the Missouri football team against Texas A&M this weekend. The Tigers have no ranking in front of their name, and they are playing on Faurot Field.
MU is 1-3 when ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and 0-3 against Big 12 Conference teams on the road.
Coach Gary Pinkel has repeatedly said he does not pay much attention to the rankings. Also, he said he is irritated with anyone using the road as an excuse.
“I think if you’re mature enough, prepare well, good teams win on the road,” Pinkel said. “I refuse to blame being on the road for ever losing a game.”
The roller-coaster ride started Sept. 20. The first game MU played when it was ranked, at home against Middle Tennessee State, the Tigers won 41-40 in overtime. MU trailed 34-26 late in the fourth quarter before tying the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Despite its near-loss against a small program, MU stayed in the rankings the next week. The Tigers traveled to Kansas on Sept. 27 and lost 35-14. MU had a season-low 196 yards of total offense.
After dropping out of the rankings for two weeks before its victory against Nebraska, MU re-entered the week of its Oct. 18 matchup against No. 1 Oklahoma.
The Sooners beat the Tigers 34-13 after scoring 21 points in six minutes.
Again, MU dropped out of the top 25, and pummeled Texas Tech 62-31 in its next game Oct. 25.
In the Tigers’ 21-16 loss at Colorado on Saturday, MU outgained Colorado by almost 200 yards but had four turnovers.
“Being ranked and all is good, but to me I think we play better when no one’s expecting us to do a good job,” junior wide receiver Thomson Omboga said.
Players are glad the pressure is a bit deflated this week, but they are not overlooking their potholed play.
“I want to start being consistent and getting a winning streak going,” outside safety Dedrick Harrington said. “I don’t want this one game win, one game loss thing.”
The Tigers recognize that winning on the road is inherent to their success.
“Most of all I want to start winning these road games,” Harrington said. “If we are going to make it anywhere and play in big games they will be on the road. We gotta just start playing more consistent and being more intense and focused when we don’t have fans around.
“It has to be us that gets it done, instead of having to depend on somebody else to help get us excited and ready to play.”
SMITH ON CAMP AWARD WATCH LIST: Sophomore quarterback Brad Smith has been recognized as one of the “15 Players to Watch” for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. Smith has 1,470 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns, and 953 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
Division I coaches and sports information directors vote on the winner, which will be announced Dec. 11.
Other Big 12 players on the list are: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma defensive end, Jason White, Oklahoma quarterback, B.J. Symons, Texas Tech quarterback, and Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State wide receiver.