This Week's Picks: Tigers Tackle Oklahoma
 
 

Oct 2, 2002

By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer

Missouri might be playing heavily favored Oklahoma at the right time - a week before the third-ranked Sooners meet second-ranked Texas in the Red River Shootout.

Not only that, the Sooners haven't been all than impressive despite a 4-0 record. Last week, for example, the team bumbled its way to a 31-14 victory against overmatched South Florida.

"We weren't able to run it, throw it, we weren't able to pick up first downs and move the football," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "You're not going to win many football games if you can't do that."

Just what Missouri wants to hear a few days before Oklahoma visits Columbia for the first time since 1998. The Tigers (3-1) are coming off their best game of the season, a 44-7 win over Troy State in which freshman quarterback Brad Smith had 350 total yards - 213 passing, 137 rushing.

Smith has 875 yards passing, 394 rushing and just one turnover in 192 plays.

"They've got a lot of fast players, smart football players and good coaches," Smith said of the Sooners. "We've just got to go out there and play with a lot of excitement and emotion, know our game plan, execute, and let the chips fall where they may."

Smith's favorite target is Justin Gage, who has 33 catches for 391 yards and two TDs.

The Sooners are still formidable, and quarterback Nate Hybl has filled in nicely for injured starter Jason White. Last week, Hybl was 19-of-30 for 177 yards and two TDs, but the Sooners managed just 45 rushing yards.

The Tigers are averaging 36.5 points and 439.5 yards a game, while the Sooners are fifth nationally in points allowed (10.7) and 10th in yards allowed (262).

Oklahoma leads the series 60-23-5 and won the last meeting, 37-0 in 1999. But in '98, Missouri won 20-6.

"We have a great opportunity to play a great team in Faurot Field in front of great fans," Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. "This is what it's all about."

The picks:

Connecticut at No. 1 Miami
UConn can't, and the Hurricanes' winning streak moves to 27 ... MIAMI, 52-0.

Oklahoma State at No. 2 Texas Longhorns' warmup before playing the real Oklahoma ... TEXAS, 38-10.

No. 3 Oklahoma at Missouri
Tigers set to spring ambush ... MISSOURI, 24-21.

No. 5 Ohio State at Northwestern
Buckeyes RB Maurice Clarett takes on a defense allowing 521.8 ypg ... OHIO STATE, 49-14.

No. 6 Florida at Mississippi
Gators' first visit to Oxford since 1994 ... MISSISSIPPI, 28-27.

No. 7 Georgia at No. 22 Alabama
If 'Bama runs, 'Bama wins ... ALABAMA, 27-21.

No. 8 Oregon at Arizona
Ducks trying to match school record 10-game win streak ... OREGON, 33-21.

Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame
Cardinal can't stop former coach Willingham's offense ... NOTRE DAME, 34-24.

Arkansas at No. 10 Tennessee
Vols have yet to impress ... TENNESSEE, 31-24.

Clemson at No. 11 Florida State (Thursday)
Bowden Bowl IV ends same way as first three ... FLORIDA STATE, 35-13.

California at No. 12 Washington
Huskies out for 20th straight over Bears ... WASHINGTON, 41-27.

No. 13 Kansas State at Colorado
Buffs' season riding on outcome ... COLORADO, 31-24.

No. 18 USC at No. 17 Washington State
Trojans' D finds way to slow down Cougs QB Gesser ... USC, 31-27.

No. 20 Penn State at No. 19 Wisconsin
Badgers allow just 15.2 ppg, plus WR Evans could return ... WISCONSIN, 31-28.

Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 21 LSU
There's a reason these two last met in 1938 ... LSU, 41-7.

Texas Tech at No. 23 Texas A&M
Look for lots of yards and little scoring ... TEXAS A&M, 24-20.

Purdue at No. 24 Iowa
Hawkeyes thinking big after win at Penn State ... IOWA, 28-17.

No. 25 Colorado State at Fresno State (Friday)
Rams out to avenge OT loss in '01 ... COLORADO STATE, 31-21.



Last week: 14-4
Season: 83-18


 
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Oklahoma running back Kejuan Jones gets tackled by the South Florida defense last Saturday.