College Station, TX – Big 12 Conference foes will collide in ranked Texas A&M Aggies entertain the Missouri Tigers.
Not much has gone right for Missouri lately, as it has lost three of its last four games to fall to 3-4 overall. Last weekend, the Tigers were no match for Oklahoma State, losing at home in a 45-24 final. Gary Pinkel, the long-time head coach of the program, obviously needs to right the ship in a hurry.
"We have a lot of frustrated players in here, and the bottom line is that you've got to play better," said Pinkel. "You play better and you're not going to be as frustrated. And that starts with me, and goes down to our staff, and falls down to our players."
As for Texas A&M, it needs one more victory to earn bowl eligibility. The 5-2 Aggies have won their last three games, all against Big 12 competition, and their only two losses to date came by a combined total of five points. The fact that they lost by just a single point to the same Oklahoma State squad that just beat Missouri by 21 is significant. Last time out, A&M defeated Iowa State by a 33-17 final.
"Any time you go on the road, no matter who you play, it's good to win," said QB Ryan Tannehill.
Texas A&M owns a 7-4 series lead over Missouri, but the Tigers won last year's meeting by a 30-9 final.
Last week against Oklahoma State, Missouri posted 463 total yards and moved the ball effectively both on the ground and through the air. The Tigers compiled 248 rushing yards, including 138 by Henry Josey. Quarterback James Franklin, who threw for a score and ran for another, connected on some big passes, and T.J. Moe finished with six grabs for 103 yards and a TD. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they turned the ball over four times, including three INTs by Franklin.
"You have to look at the turnovers; I think we had four today and you just can't do that," said Pinkel. "You're going to put yourself in a difficult situation."
Oklahoma State possesses one of the truly elite offenses in all of college football, so it came as no surprise that the Cowboys were able to rack up 533 total yards against Missouri. The Tigers were victimized for 195 rushing yards at a clip of 6.3 ypc, and six total TDs were yielded to the OSU offense.
Overall this season, Missouri is generating 33.9 ppg while posting 491.4 total ypg, impressive numbers by almost any standards. With 238.1 rushing ypg and 253.3 passing ypg being mustered, it is obvious that the Tigers can move the ball via both means of attack. Franklin has 19 total TDs to his credit, including eight rushing scores, and Josey has run for 855 yards and six TDs while averaging an eye-popping 8.6 ypc.
Opponents are posting 23.9 ppg and 365.7 total ypg against Missouri, which usually plays better defense than it did last week versus Oklahoma State. The Tigers yield a mere 3.4 rushing yards per attempt, and they have not allowed many long pass plays.
Through seven games, Texas A&M is averaging 40.4 ppg and 522.6 total ypg, numbers that have undoubtedly gotten the attention of the Missouri defense. The Aggies post 230.4 rushing ypg at a clip of 5.4 ypc, and Christine Michael has run for 707 yards and eight scores, ranking him just ahead of fellow tailback Cyrus Gray (646 yards, seven TDs). As for the passing attack, Tannehill has completed 65.2 percent of his attempts for 2,005 yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions. Ryan Swope paces the receivers with 44 catches for 659 yards and six scores.
Defensively, Texas A&M can best be described as mediocre, as the club is permitting 25.4 ppg and 415.3 total ypg. The Aggies are actually outstanding against the run, yielding a mere 2.4 yards per attempt, but they are being victimized for 335.4 passing ypg with just four interceptions notched to date.
In the 16-point triumph over Iowa State last time out, A&M totaled 510 yards of offense and notched over 240 yards both rushing and receiving, proof of the team's tremendous balance. Both Michael and Gray ran for well over 100 yards, and Tannehill played interception-free football.
"Anytime you can stack wins you're going to gain confidence," said Tannheill, who added that his team still has plenty to improve upon.
Texas A&M deserves credit for limiting Iowa State to 305 total yards. The Cyclones committed far below 50 percent of their passes against the Aggies, who yielded just 3.8 yards per rushing attempt as well.