Kansas rush offense vs. Missouri rush defense
KU’s gameplan always features a heavy dose of the run, but the Tigers don’t figure to be accommodating to that idea. MU gives up 141 yards per game to opposing offenses but just 3.8 yards per carry. Although KU has a couple of backs with big-time talent — James Sims lead the team with 692 yards and 11 touchdowns and Darrian Miller adds 559 and 4 — the Jayhawks have been inconsistent in the run game all season. Two weeks ago, in an overtime loss against Baylor, KU ran for 296 yards in a near upset. Last week, at Texas A&M;, the Jayhawks gained just 64 yards on 55 carries. What once was a guaranteed strength for the Jayhawks has become entirely too hard to predict. With the strength of the MU defense sitting in the trenches and KU’s passing game struggling, this could be another long week for Kansas. Edge: Missouri.
Kansas pass offense vs. Missouri pass defense
The KU passing game has struggled for the past several weeks and doesn’t figure to get healthy against Missouri’s active and athletic secondary. Although sophomore wide receiver Christian Matthews has emerged in the past couple of games as a reliable option for quarterback Jordan Webb, the sophomore QB has been without a go-to option for most of the season. In addition, the offensive line has struggled to protect him lately and Biere could be without senior tight end for a second straight week. Webb has not topped 169 yards passing in the past six weeks. Edge: Missouri.
Missouri rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
As a team, the Tigers average 242 yards per game on the ground. That’s due, in large part, to the running ability of quarterback James Franklin. In addition to being an adequate passer, Franklin has hurt opposing defenses with his ability to tuck the ball and head up field this season. His 794 rushing yards rank second on the team and he leads the Tigers with 13 rushing touchdowns. While Franklin’s athletic ability and vision help make him a dangerous runner, he also has enjoyed the luxury of running behind a big and experienced offensive line. The Tigers start three seniors and a junior up front and average 305 pounds across the offensive line. Edge: Missouri.
Missouri pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
Although the Tigers are not known as a dangerous passing team — MU averages just 241 yards per game through the air — a quick look at their list of receiving options will make any opposing defense shudder. In T.J. Moe (51 catches, 629 yards, 4 TDs), Michael Egnew (46, 467, 3) and Wes Kemp (292, 25, 3), Mizzou has three proven and talented play makers to whom Franklin can throw the ball. Add to that four other players who have at least 10 receptions this season and Mizzou, with its speed and athletic play-makers, becomes one of the tougher teams to defend. Franklin has thrown for 2,553 yards, 18 TDs and seven interceptions this season and will be looking to improve MU’s bowl status with every pass against a KU secondary that’s giving up an average of 286 yards per game to opposing QBs. Edge: Missouri.
No unit has been safe from KU’s struggles this season, and the special teams turned in one of its worst games of the season in its last outing. In a 61-7 loss at Texas A&M;, the KU special teams gave up a punt return for a touchdown, a safety on a high snap and missed a field goal. KU coach Turner Gill said this week that the Jayhawks must win the special teams battle this weekend to have a chance to beat the Tigers. But the way KU has been playing lately, it looks like that may be tough to do. Edge: Missouri.