Run and Shoot: Before Colliding with Kansas, Missouri Takes on Kansas State

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Before Colliding with Kansas, Missouri Takes on Kansas State

MANHATTAN, Kan. - In the past, Kansas State has dominated Missouri here. "History's on K-State's side," the main headline proclaimed on the front page of the Manhattan Mercury, underscoring how Missouri has lost eight consecutive times at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

But a smaller headline revealed this season's reality: "Tigers' offense presents many problems for KSU," it read.

Kansas State (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) has had its glory. Now Missouri (9-1, 5-1), ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings, is trying to claim its share. The Big 12 North is not the only possible prize. A national championship is also obtainable.

After No. 2 Oregon's stunning loss at Arizona, Missouri doesn't need any help to advance to the BCS National Championship Game. It needs to beat Kansas State, hand Kansas what would likely be its first loss next week and then avenge its only loss against Oklahoma, its probable opponent in the Big 12 Championship.

That scenario would make Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel a leading candidate to win the Heisman Trophy. With Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon out for the season, Daniel is the latest quarterback getting publicity. His Web site was launched this week - ChaseTheHeisman.com - and during an interview with Jim Rome Thursday, he talked as quickly as the loquacious host.

While the Tigers are soaring, the Wildcats are plummeting. After their stunning 41-21 upset against Texas in Austin, the Wildcats seemed at best a Big 12 North contender, and at worst a bowl team. But they have lost four of their last six, punctuated by their 73-31 loss at Nebraska last Saturday. They gave up 702 yards to the Cornhuskers and the most points they had since 1971. If they lose to Missouri, they would have to win at Fresno State next week to qualify for a bowl game.

The major problems for Kansas State have been its subdued pass rush and lapses on special teams, coach Ron Prince said. The Wildcats will have to pressure Daniel, or he will toy with the Wildcats like Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz did last week.

The Tigers' defense will focus on shutting down Kansas State wide receiver Jordy Nelson, the nation's second-leading player in receptions and receiving yards per game. They have experience stopping star receivers, holding the nation's leader, Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, to 76 yards last month, but that was with senior safety Pig Brown in the lineup, who's now out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

The stadium is filling up well before kickoff. Kansas State has dedicated fans. The student section was packed one hour before kickoff. The Wildcats will honor 22 seniors today during their final home game.

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