A different game

Photo Credit: Tom Loeffler

The price of poker isn't going up for the Missouri Tigers. Not at all. This is a whole, different game. After playing a non-glorified scrimmage against FCS Western Illinois last Saturday, a 69-0 Missouri yawner, the unranked Tigers (2-1) hit the road to play the No. 1 team in the nation, the Oklahoma Sooners (2-0), at 7:10 p.m. Saturday (FX-TV) in the Big 12 opener. "Oklahoma is an outstanding football team," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "I don TMt think they have any weaknesses. They are very impressive on both sides of the football and are playing very well. "When you talk about Oklahoma, I think it starts up front on their offensive and defensive lines." Perhaps. Then again, it could with start quarterback Landry Jones, a three-year starter. The 6-4, 229-pound junior has completed 53-of-74 passes for 574 yards and two touchdowns this season. "When you look at Landry Jones," Pinkel said, "you see the development over the last few years. He TMs a really great player and he has good players around him." Oklahoma having good players is nothing new. Willie Franklin, the father of Missouri quarterback James Franklin, played at Oklahoma and was a receiver for the Sooners in 1970-71. "I'm not really thinking about it's my dad's former team," James Franklin said. "I'm just going to think about going out and playing OU, and that it's just another game." The Sooners were good then and 40 years later, they're still good --- really good --- somewhere between a college and NFL team. They're coming off a 23-13 win at then-No. 5 Florida State, and they're more than a three-touchdown favorite against the Tigers. "Going back to the Florida State game, I am very proud of our players' efforts and making plays throughout the game and in the fourth quarter to win it," OU coach Bob Stoops said during his weekly press conference. "It was a great game and a great environment." As was the MU-OU game last year, when the Tigers knocked off the No. 1 Sooners, 36-27, in Columbia. Go crazy, folks, go crazy. "We got embarrassed with the way we played last year against Missouri," Stoops said. "What works for us is the way you prepare, the way you work and the way you play the game. "We are very aware of who we are playing next week." Mmmm, that would be a home game against Ball State. Scared of Ball State, Bob? Perhaps, just perhaps, he was thinking about two weeks from Saturday when Oklahoma plays Texas. Stoops needs to re-read the coach-speak guide. And look at the schedule more closely. "It's our first conference game, (Missouri) is an excellent team and we were No. 1 last year when they beat us," Stoops said. "There is a lot of respect there. We understand what kind of game this is going to be." Barring a near-miracle, this game will be like the others played in Norman in recent years --- an OU win. The Sooners have won 37 straight home games and are 72-2 at home under Stoops. "Their fans are going to be loud and the stadium's going to be rocking," MU senior linebacker Luke Lambert said. "You have to understand, the stands are right there on top of you, people are going to be right behind us, and we have to make adjustments the best we can." While the Tigers will still be without several starters, including their top three tailbacks --- Kendial Lawrence, De'Vion Moore and Marcus Murphy --- others are getting back to full strength. Defensive end Jacquies Smith, wide receiver Jerrell Jackson and center Travis Ruth should all see extended action Saturday night. "(Jefferson City's) Travis Ruth was out five weeks, that TMs a long time," Pinkel said of the junior, who's been battling an achilles injury. "You think of all that time in two-a-days when we extended practices ... he missed a lot of practices. I think he got 27 or 28 plays (against Western Illinois) and that was our goal, to get him over 25. "He felt really good when he woke up (Sunday morning). That TMs the most important thing after you play with that type of injury and he wasn TMt sore at all, so that TMs good."