Starting Saturday, Missouri is looking for Texas to be a friendly place over the next week.
The Tigers (3-1, 1-0) make the first of back-to-back trips to Texas on Saturday, traveling to Waco to play Baylor (2-2, 0-1) in their first Big 12 Conference road game of the season. Saturday’s game starts at 9 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
The Tigers play Texas on Oct. 16 in Austin.
Missouri Tigers vs. Baylor Bears
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM
TV: Fox Sports Net
Although Baylor coach Guy Morriss said he would prefer an earlier start for Saturday’s game, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he does not see a problem with the kickoff time.
“Most (college students) are either playing video games or out running around at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Pinkel said. “I can’t believe a 9 o’clock start is going to be that difficult.”
Missouri has won the past four meetings between the teams, dominating the Bears’ defense for an average of 44.8 points a game during the winning streak. The high-scoring trend should continue for the Tigers, with Baylor giving up the most points per game in the Big 12 (32.8) and ranking last in rush defense, allowing 218.8 yards a game.
Morriss, who is in his second year at Baylor and has never faced Missouri or Pinkel, said his team has to focus on stopping the Tigers’ offense, particularly the running and passing threat of quarterback Brad Smith.
“Brad Smith is the guy,” Morriss said Monday. “He’s the straw that stirs the drink. Everything they do comes off his own play. Between him and (tailback Damien Nash) that seems the way their offense is geared.”
The Bears’ defense will have to improve against the run to stop Nash, who is the seventh-leading rusher in the Big 12, with 91.5 yards per game. Nash also has seven touchdowns this season, one behind Texas running back Cedric Benson, the conference leader.
The Baylor offense has not produced many points this season, ranking second to last in the
Big 12 with 22.2 points per game. They have had some success in their passing game, though, with quarterback Dane King averaging 192.2 yards per game. He has also thrown for six touchdowns.
“You can see him getting better each and every week, and he’s got a great delivery,” Pinkel said. “They have a very potent offense. They have an offense that’s very mobile, they can do about anything they want on offense.”
The Bears offense will have to contend with a Missouri defense that has been impressive in its past two games. The Tigers defense shut out Ball State Sept. 18 and held Colorado to nine points in the win last week.
Missouri is second in the Big 12 in points allowed with 13.2 points per game and has held its opponents to 281 yards of total offense per game. The Tigers also had three interceptions against Colorado, including a game-saving takeaway by cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell in the end zone.
“I think we’re making progress,” Pinkel said. “I really thought the second half (against Colorado) we really elevated our play a little bit more and that certainly was necessary. There was a couple third-and-one and fourth-and-one stops that were critical.”
Although the Tigers are heavily favored, a win in Waco would bring much-needed confidence on the road. In his four years at Missouri, Pinkel is 4-12 in away games, but said he will continue to maintain the same strategy.
Missouri’s only loss this season came on the road against Troy. Morris said that though he will not emulate what the Trojans did, watching the game tape might help him find a way to beat Missouri.
“You want to see what they did to win the football game and to some degree maybe adapt some of those changes into your offense scheme,” he said. “You don’t go in and make wholesale changes.”