Run and Shoot: Missouri Looks to Keep Pace with Kansas

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Missouri Looks to Keep Pace with Kansas

COLUMBIA, Mo. — While Missouri is trying to keep pace with surprising, undefeated Kansas, Texas A&M is looking to salvage its season by playing for its embattled coach, Dennis Franchione.

The stark difference between the two teams this season is illustrated by the attendance of bowl game representatives. The Tigers (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) are courting Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl reps today at their last home game of the season. They are trying to qualify for their first January bowl since the 1969-1970 season.

An Independence Bowl rep is present for the Aggies (6-4, 3-3). He handed out information to the press and the MU media relations staff before the game. "These are just memories for you guys," the rep said to the MU staff, talking about the Tigers' 2003 trip to Shreveport, La.

Although it's the Tigers' last home game of the season, Faurot Field will not be sold out. Quarterback Chase Daniel was on the radio this week urging fans to buy tickets. The athletic department said it's hoping for more than 60,000. Capacity at Faurot Field is 68,349, but it can accommodate more than 70,000.

Here are some keys to today's game:

1) WILL THERE BE A RUNNING LANE?

The path to victory is simple for A&M: on the ground. For the Aggies to have a chance to win today, they will have to establish their rushing attack, control the clock and keep the ball away from the Tigers' offense. The Aggies didn't do that In their past two games against ranked Big 12 foes — Kansas and Oklahoma. A&M running back Jorvorskie Lane rushed for only 24 yards and 28 yards against the Jayhawks and Sooners, respectively. Mike Goodson didn't fare any better — only 33 and 28 — and neither did Stephen McGee — 11 and 71.

Earlier this season, MU's young defense was porous against the run, but it held Colorado's Hugh Charles to 59 yards on 14 carries last week. The linebackers, led by Sean Weatherspoon, will face the most pressure against the option attack. But Weatherspoon's familiar with McGee. They played against each other in high school. Safety William Moore will also help out, creeping close to the line.

2) CHASE FOR THE HEISMAN

With a career performance against Colorado (421 yards, five touchdowns), Chase Daniel won last week's Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award, upstaging Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing's six-touchdown torching of Nebraska. Although he won't win the Heisman, Daniel will likely earn a trip to New York if he leads the Tigers to a Big 12 North title. He should have another big game against A&M's suspect pass defense, ranked No. 97 in the nation.

3) IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BALL

MU coaches stressed turnovers from the start of two-a-days in August. They made a fashion statement, wearing black shirts with the motto "It's All About the Ball" emblazoned on them. Three first-half fumbles cost the Tigers dearly in their 25-19 at College Station last year. The Aggies will have to force more turnovers to stage an upset.

4) FRAN'S FUTURE

Rumors dogged Franchione this week. The embattled coach denied reports about contract buyout negotiations with the university, while players voiced their support for him. Will the Aggies rally around their coach this week? MU faced similar situations against lame-duck coaches during the past two years: Bill Snyder at Kansas State in 2005 and Dan McCarney at Iowa State in 2006. They lost both games on the road.

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