Each Wednesday, PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond and recruiting editor Pete Scantlebury will answer questions from subscribers in our Tiger Mailbag. This feature will allow for longer, more in-depth answers than you may get on the message board on a daily basis. To have your question in next week's mailbag, send an email to Gabe at email@example.com. On to this week's inquiries:
mcm83 asks: Do you think MU will try to run the ball down OSU's throat and let it set up the pass? OSU has picked off a lot of passes. It would seem this strategy would serve us well - keep OSU offense off the field, we lead the Big12 in rushing, O-line can be dominating.
I think that's the strategy Missouri should take against EVERYONE. This offense's strength is the running game. As you saw last week, when the running game is working, the passing game works better. In years past, Missouri has been a team that has passed to set up the run. This year, that should be reversed. Against OSU, that is even more true because of the Pokes high-powered offense. This approach has not been something that Missouri has been very willing to take over the last few years. We will find out over the next three weeks if it is one the Tigers are willing to take now. If not, there will be some serious message board anger, I predict.
esteele asks: Assuming the jump to the SEC is made, what are the odds that a guy like Mizzou and a girl like ku end up playing each other in the future? Do you feel those in power from both schools would make a real effort at keeping the rivalry alive or are the chances 1 in a million?
Everyone I know that covers Kansas says the Jayhawks will put an end to the rivalry if Missouri leaves. We'll see how long it lasts. I think Mizzou would be more than willing to keep playing. It fills the need for a BCS opponent in the non-con in football and the basketball game would be the highlight of the season every year for Tiger fans. But if Kansas wants to end it, that's the Hawks prerogative. I personally hope they keep playing in basketball, either on campus on an alternating basis or in Kansas City (and I wonder if CBS or ESPN would have some input on that happening). As far as football, I'm going to anger some people by saying this, but outside of 2007, that's just been another game on the schedule. I'd personally be more intrigued seeing a renewal of a series with Nebraska.
jncatch asks: Would love to hear your thoughts on the overall perception of West Virginia and Louisville in the B12. Athletically and academically how would they fit into the B12? How would MU see them fitting in if they were to stay? In other words if another school was to leave and MU was staying, would they see this as a "good get" or lower tier replacements?
This hits right at the heart of why I have believed for a while that Missouri has to leave if it has options. Simple geography pretty much dictates that the Big 12 can never be as strong as it was three years ago. Losing Nebraska, Texas A&M and Colorado hurt (say what you want about the Buffs. I know it's not an elite type program, but it was better than a lot of the available replacements). To me, there just aren't programs available that can get the Big 12 back to what it was. Arkansas isn't coming. I can't buy that Notre Dame will. So the best you can do is TCU, Louisville, BYU, West Virginia. Those aren't terrible programs, but I don't think they're as good as CU, NU, ATM and Mizzou.
As far as that convincing Missouri to stay, that decision's been made. If the Tigers remain in the Big 12 (and I think it's a very, very small chance, but as I've said before, these things aren't done until the ink is dry and the press conference is underway), it won't be because of anything the Big 12 did to keep them. It will be because the SEC pulled the plug (and, no, I don't think that's going to happen).
RockwallTiger asks: How will Mizzou compete in the SEC?
There is probably some sarcasm here, but I'll give you a serious answer. I think they'll compete in the SEC about the same way they have in the Big 12. I think Missouri's status as a program is this: Be a solid eight win team on an average basis. Sometimes, you will win one or two extra to get to nine or ten. Once every now and again, the stars may align and you have 2007. I think the SEC probably brings 6-6 or even 5-7 into the picture a little more often than the Big 12 does because, as Kirk Herbstreit noted, there are fewer "off weeks" or "gimmies" in the SEC. A road game at Mississippi State is tougher than Iowa State. Games against Tennessee or Arkansas or Georgia are tougher than those against Texas Tech or Baylor, in my opinion.
One thing I think Missouri should like is the possibility of playing in the East. They are a better program than Vandy or Kentucky. They've been about even with South Carolina, with maybe a slight nod to Mizzou. Historically, they're clearly not as good as Georgia or Tennessee, but right now, I think you can argue they're at least equal and probably better. If you're in the East, you're basically looking at your toughest games being Florida and Arkansas (at least in years when you don't get Bama or LSU). To me, that's not as tough as annual games with Oklahoma and Texas every season.
For fun, let's look at a potential 2012 schedule, both in the Big 12 and the SEC, along with my predictions. I'm assuming the SEC would have an eight-game league schedule and Missouri would play in the East:
Southern Illinois: Win
Arizona State: Probable win at home
At Miami (OH): Win
Kansas State: Win
At Iowa State: Win
At Oklahoma State: Loss
Texas A&M: Win
At Texas: Loss
At Texas Tech: Tossup
Record: 8-3 with a tossup at Tech
Southern Illinois: Win
Arizona State: Probably win at home
At Miami (OH): Win
Fill in non-con game: Win
At South Carolina: Loss
At Tennessee: Win
At Florida: Loss
At Arkansas: Loss
Texas A&M: Win
Record: 8-3 with a tossup against Georgia
Obviously, these are guesses. But the fact is, Missouri has one of the nation's 15 toughest schedules so far this year
and that's before they play four ranked teams in the next four weeks. Going to the East, the schedule might actually be a little bit EASIER. Plus, you get back to a division format with the two best teams in the opposite division (just like it was for the first 14 years in the Big 12). Now, if Missouri goes West and has Bama, LSU, A&M and Arkansas on the schedule every season, that may change some things in my outlook.
Bottom line: Missouri can compete. It won't be easy. I don't think they'll win the league very often at all. But last I checked, they haven't won the Big 12 (or Big Eight) very often either.
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