Tigers, Red Raiders mirror each other in several ways

Friday, October 19, 2007 | 2:35 a.m. CDT; updated 2:52 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Missouri will be seeing double when it takes on Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders (6-1 overall, 2-1 Big 12 Conference) have striking resemblances to the Tigers (5-1, 1-1).

1. The star redshirt freshman wide receiver: Tech’s Michael Crabtree and MU’s Jeremy Maclin.

If he covered college football, Dick Vitale would already be hoarse talking about these prolific, record-breaking players. While Maclin could set records for all-purpose yards gained by a freshman by the end of season, Crabtree will shatter one of the freshman receiving marks against the Tigers — probably in the first quarter.

He has already gained 1,244 yards. USC’s Mike Williams set the mark with 1,265 yards in 2002. Crabtree has also caught 17 touchdown passes. The national record for all players? Twenty-seven.

Everyone has noticed the numbers. Even coach Gary Pinkel was rattling off Crabtree’s statistics like a fantasy football guru during his press conference Monday.

“Our coaches are going to have a pretty good game plan, so we just need to come out and contain him,” said safety Pig Brown, paraphrasing former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick.

2. The experienced junior quarterback in a crowded Heisman Trophy conversation: Tech’s Graham Harrell and MU’s Chase Daniel.

On airwaves across the nation, pundits throw in a new contender every week to keep the monotonous speculation about the Heisman Trophy seem fresh.

Last week, Daniel got to mingle with such favorites as Arkansas running back Darren McFadden and Kentucky quarterback Andre’ Woodson. But after Daniel’s performance against Oklahoma, Harrell is this week’s talking point.

Like Crabtree, Harrell will challenge multiple records this season. Daunte Culpepper set a record for accuracy (73.6 percent) with Central Florida in 1998. Harrell has completed 74.4 percent of his passes.

3. The spread offense: Pinkel is a disciple of Tech coach Mike Leach. He credits Leach for creating the popular system both teams employ.

Astute fans will notice slight differences in the teams’ schemes. Unlike Daniel, sometimes Harrell will get under center. While Daniel stands alone in shotgun at times, Harrell always has a running back by his side.

Both teams rack up yardage regardless of the formations. Saturday’s final score should resemble the result of an Ivy League basketball game. Texas Tech’s lowest tally of the season is 35, Missouri’s 31.

4. A defense with marked improvement: At the start of the season, both units were as subpar as Michelle Wie’s scores. Tech’s failures created more of a crisis. Although Ole Miss gained 534 yards against the Tigers, Oklahoma State gutted the Red Raiders for 610. After their 49-45 loss to the Cowboys, Tech defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich stepped down for personal reasons.

The change paid off. The Aggies scored only seven points against Tech on Saturday. Pinkel said he was impressed.

Both defenses will also benefit from practicing against the spread.

“I think it helps quite a bit,” linebacker Brock Christopher said. “We obviously got a great quarterback we get to go against in practice.”

TEMPLE OUT: Pinkel said tailback Tony Temple won’t play against Texas Tech on Saturday, according to Chad Moller, MU’s assistant athletic director of media relations.

Temple sprained his ankle against Nebraska and didn’t travel with the team to Oklahoma.

“I’d be very disappointed if he wasn’t ready to play,” Pinkel said during his press conference Monday.

SELLOUT UNLIKELY: After more than 70,000 packed Faurot Field for the Oct. 6 Nebraska game, MU expects between 62,000 to 65,000 against Tech, according to Moller.

“Missouri fans, they got a choice. It’s my job to put a winning team out there that will plays at a high, efficient level. We’ve got great fans. It’d be nice to see us get 63,000 to 65,000 minimal to these games,” Pinkel said.

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