Know Your Opponent: Missouri Tigers

Written by Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3

The only Tigers you can cheer for on Saturday night!

The only Tigers you can cheer for on Saturday night!

Alright so the Hoosiers got back on track with a big week three win over Bowling Green. Sure the Hoosier "faithful" are not as invested as if they were undefeated heading into this game as many of us had predicted.

No matter though, the lights will bright on Saturday night as Indiana hosts the Missouri Tigers. It is the only Big Ten-SEC regular season matchup for the 2013 season, so conference bragging rights are on the line to some extent.

The Tigers are undefeated, but they have played just two games so far in 2013. This is a team that is very similar to the Hoosiers as they have an explosive offense and a defense that is not very stout. That being said, if the units were drafted before the game the Hoosier offense would go first, while their defense last.

With this being Mizzou's first marquee game of the season, it is unlikely you have had your eyes glued on their play. But don't worry, we will catch you up so that you can out smart all your friends at the bars and tailgates on Saturday night. 

Find out everything that you need to know about the Hoosiers' week four opponent, the Missouri Tigers right here. 

This Years Record: 2-0 (0-0 SEC)

Head Coach: Gary Pinkel, 90-61 (.,596), 13th year

Last Years Record: 5-7, First non-bowl season since 2004

Bowls Since 2000: 8 Appearances (4-4 Record)

Mascot: Truman the Tiger

Colors: Black and MU Gold

Outfitter: Nike

Fun Fact: Missouri played their first year in the SEC last season, leading to their worst record in nearly a decade.

1.The Tigers backs have their racing stripes

It starts with junior running back Henry Josey. He missed 659 days of action due to  a knee injury after putting up some incredible performances. Josey rushed for 113 yards on just 13 carries against Murray State, good enough for an 8.7 average per carry. He was able to pop off a 68-yard touchdown to show that his knee was truly ready for action. Before he went down with that injury nearly two years ago Josey ranked fifth in the nation in rushing with 1,168 yards, nine touchdowns and a 8.1 average per rush. Fellow Tiger Russell Hansbrough was no slouch either, as he checked in with 104 rushing yards of his own on just eight touches. The sophomore’s average of 13 yards per carry is even more impressive. Oh, and he also had two touchdowns for good measure. This was the first time since 1999 that two Missouri running backs rushed for 100-yards in the same game. While the numbers against Toledo in week two were not quite as impressive Josey did score two tochdowns. Adding to the Tigers dynamic backfield was Marcus Murphy who has rushed for exactly 56 yards and a touchdown in each of Mizzou’s first two games.

2.  James Franklin is no joke!

While many talked about James Franklin potentially losing his job to freshman Maty Mauk, he went to work. A senior heading into his third year as a starter, Franklin has not disappointed. He has tossed the ball around efficiently completing 66.7% of his passes while only throwing one interception. He has also been dynamic; tossing four touchdowns passes in the Tigers first two games. What he has done with his legs has been just as impressive. So far Franklin has rushed for 121 yards, with an average of over 5 yards per carry. The senior has clearly bounced back from an injury riddled junior campaign to once again become the dynamic leader at the quarterback position for the Tigers.

3. Untested Tigers

While there are a lot of good things going on in the world of Missouri football, they also have not been tested yet this season. First and foremost, they have only played two games so far this year. Then take a look at their opponents and it is very underwhelming. They took down an FCS level Murray State team to open the season. Sure the Tigers looked impressive, but again, this is a team that won just five games last year in the Ohio Valley Conference. In week two Mizzou did step their level of competition up as they hosted the Toledo rockets. It was actually a much closer game than expected, although the Rockets have been a slight surprise despite their 1-2 record. They didn’t get blown out in Gainesville, played Missouri tough and took down a tough Eastern Washington team. Again, Missouri has played an FCS and a MAC team that wasn’t named Northern Illinois. What can we take from the pair of games that they played, I don’t believe much. What I do know is that this should be their toughest test thus far in 2013.

4.  Mizzou stock is high.

As many of you know, I am a fan of analytics and in-depth statistics, as I believe that they can tell us much about the game that the basic numbers, which have been around since my grandfather was in college, just cant produce. One of my favorites is Football Outsiders S&P+ rating. The tigers look rather solid so far in these ratings. Overall the Tigers are ranked 37th nationally, while the offense clocks in at 36th while the defense is ranked 39th. As you can see this is a balanced team, which does everything well, but nothing exceptionally so far this year. There is no true weakness to exploit and the Hoosiers will need to play to their strengths as opposed to trying to exploit Mizzou if they hope to win on Saturday night.

5. Taming the Tigers

As I am sure you know, Indiana has been dominated historically in nearly every series they play. If you don’t believe me, for whatever reason that may be, brace yourself and check out the Hoosiers record vs. the Big Ten as well as against other conferences. So it was much to my surprise, and delight when I saw the series history between Mizzou and Indiana. Saturday nights meeting will mark the 11th time these two programs have met, and Indiana leads the series 6-2-2! Yes that’s right…domination! All right maybe not really since the last time these two teams played was back in 1992 when Missouri was part of some conference called the Big Eight. Wow things have changed! So sure it hasn’t been any recent success but if you’re a Hoosier fan its something to hang your hat on heading into Saturday night.