Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Taking KC Star columnist to task

The dog days of summer continue before the start of fall practice. I can’t help but notice the continued Kool-Aid sipping of Missouri football fans and media.

About two months ago, here in this very same blog space on May 28, I Columbia Daily Tribune columnist Dave Matter to task for saying that the Tigers “reload” these days rather than rebuild.

Kansas City Star reporter Mike DeArmond has recently joined the ranks of blogging. Mr. DeArmond suggests that Husker fans are premature in their assessment of claiming the program is “back” one year after posting a 9-4 record under Bo Pelini in his first season.

DeArmond says: “Those people picking Nebraska to win the Big 12 North are abso-tooting-lutely nuts.”

“The Cornhuskers have an inexperienced quarterback, lost just as much as Missouri on offense, don’t have a running back of the caliber of MU’s Derrick Washington. Shouting The Blackshirts Are Back! seems based more on the hope that Bo Pelini is a defensive genius rather than a first-year college head coach that was simply better than Bill Callahan.”

I don’t disagree that one 9-4 season does not constitute the program being “back.” However, Mr. DeArmond’s assertion that Nebraska lost as much as Missouri in terms of offense is a bit of a stretch. Yes, the Huskers lost their leading receivers and starting quarterback but The Tigers lost two heisman candidates and a Mackey award winner.

To say that NEbraska does not have a running back he caliber of Derrick Washington is ridiculous. Yes, Roy Helu only had 800 rushing yards last year, but he also achieved those numbers on just 125 carries, that’s 6.4 yards per carry if you are scoring at home

Nebraska probably will lose to Oklahoma but don’t think for one minute that Kansas will not lose to them or Texas either.

Yes, the Tigers kicked Nebraska’s tail 52-17 last year but I would argue that they underachieved last season. No, 10-4 and a Big 12 North title is not a failure but considering the preseason hype plus a 5-0 start, the season was a disappointment.

That game was also played in Game Five when Missouri looked like a juggernaut and Nebraska was still finding its way. However, I’m convinced that if the game is played later in the season, Nebraska has a very good chance to win. I hate to play the comparative scored game but consider this. Oklahoma pounded Mizzu 66-21 on a neutral field and Nebraska 62-28 in Norman. Nebraska defeated Kansas 45-35 in Lincoln in a game the Huskers dominated more than the final score suggested. Kansas beat Mizzu 45-42 on a neutral field.

Bottom line. Missouri has never won a Big 12 championship and only won two divisional titles in the past two years. I think a lot of people in Columbia are going to be in for a rude awakening. Missouri fans and media also don’t seem to get that they owe as much to Nebraska being in the tank for their success as to the talent increase at their own school. Keep in mind, they creamed two teams coached by Bill Callahan and another (the 2008 team) still had many Callahan remnants. They also lost to a 2002 Nebraska team that went 7-7 and a 2004 Husker club that went 5-6.While the 2007 and 2008 teams were decent for Missouri, how would they have fared against Nebraska in its prime? From 1993 to 2001, how many games would either of those teams have won against Nebraska? My guess is that the 2007 Tigers would have won three games at the most (1998, 2000 and possibly 2001) and last year's team probably only would've been able to beat an injury-ravaged 1998 Husker team. In other words, the greatest Missouri teams ever would have still been hammered by Nebraska's average teams of the 90s.

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