Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tigers readying for another big challenge

By David Ubben

It didn't take much for Gary Pinkel to get his team refocused for its next challenge after beating Oklahoma on Saturday.

"Just watch the Nebraska film," Pinkel, Missouri's coach, said. "That’s really easy."

He's right. Receiver T.J. Moe couldn't adhere to the 24-hour rule following the win over the then-No. 1 Sooners. He snuck in some game film on Nebraska on Sunday night.

For all the greater significance of Saturday's win over the Sooners, this week's game against the Huskers is even bigger for Missouri in the context of 2010.

TJ Moe
Missiouri receiver T.J. Moe knows most people picked Nebraska to win the Big 12 North. "We didn't like that too much," Moe said.
"If we stumble here, we may not have a chance at completing any of our goals that we set this season," said Moe, a sophomore.

Among them: Win the Big 12 North and win the Big 12. A loss would hand the Huskers the division tiebreaker, with four games likely favoring 6-1 Nebraska standing between them and an appearance in the Big 12 title game.

Meanwhile, a win for 7-0 Missouri would launch them formally into the national title discussion, and the Tigers could afford a disappointing loss down the stretch and still be named the North champion.

Don't expect the Tigers to belabor the scenario, but don't expect them to ignore it, either. For all the talk of preparation and taking games "one at a time," they know what would come with the Missouri-Nebraska Bell in Lincoln.

"All the implications are right there. It’s all pretty obvious stuff," Moe said. "We have to beat them to win the North. You can’t count on anybody but yourself. If we win, we control our own destiny. That’s how it needs to be, and it needs to stay that way."

For Missouri, a team playing its best football of the season the past two weeks, Saturday's matchup couldn't come at a better time. Knowing Nebraska awaits doesn't provide an opportunity for a letdown, and Missouri won't have trouble sneaking in another hour of film or catching a few extra balls with the motivation of an elite opponent and some offseason disrespect.

"It’s the best thing that could have happened to us. We have one of best teams in the country coming up, and we have to go there to play them," Moe said. "I think everybody knows what we think about Nebraska, and we feel a little bit disrespected by them and by the rest of the nation. We haven’t been picked too highly before the season, everybody picked them to win the North and said it was just a one-team race, and 'Who’s going to play them in the Big 12 Championship?'"

Said Moe: "We didn’t like that too much."

And it's a safe bet they don't like entering Saturday's game as touchdown underdogs to a team that ranks eight spots below them in the BCS rankings, either, regardless of where the game will be played.

Any slight, perceived or otherwise, can only help Missouri's players "overprepare," a concept Moe says the team has to embrace each week.

"You’ve accomplished your goal of staying undefeated, but you have to accomplish the same goal this weekend," Moe said.

"If you bring your 'A' game, you can beat anybody. If you bring your 'B' game, anybody can beat you. This is the Big 12; it’s a tough league. You have to come in and play your very best or you don’t have a shot."