On Saturday, September 10th, the Kansas State Wildcats, and Missouri Tigers get back to their roots and revive their Big 12 rivalry. Historically, Missouri owns the matchup with a record of 60-32-5.
Missouri entered the season projected as the sixth best team in the SEC East, with only Vanderbilt worse. This is consistent amongst most major news media and ‘expert’ opinions. One way for the Tigers to get the jump on this, and finish higher is to win their toughest non-conference matchup, and the only one they will be underdogs in.
Kansas State entered 2022 projected to finish somewhere between fourth and seventh in the global SEC – depending on what you are reading; with many having them nestled in the fifth spot. The Wildcats are a wild card. Transfer, and starting Quarterback, Adrian Martinez is well experienced in his fifth season, and familiar with the big stage, after many years at Nebraska. Martinez has plenty of talent, and if he can get off for a huge day, I expect Kansas State to have an easy time at home. Martinez has also had his fair share of issues turning the ball over. Missouri is now comprised of many aggressive, opportunistic players on defense. Should the Wildcats’ QB get careless with the ball, the Tigers will be ready.
Why Missouri should be concerned:
- The Tigers are 2 – 11 on the road, dating back to 2019. They have not had an impact win on the road since 11/3/2018, beating the 13th ranked Florida Gators 38 – 17 in Gainesville. That was an impressive victory, but it was also four years ago.
- The Tigers gave up 336 passing yards to the Louisiana Tech bulldogs in their season opener. The defense allowed the backup Quarterback, Parker McNeil to come in and throw for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- The Missouri defense is aggressive, but can be exposed if too aggressive. Against Louisiana Tech the middle of the field was soft, and open for most of the game. Had the MU defensive line not created mass pressure on the QB, the Bulldogs would have scored a lot more.
Why Missouri should be excited:
- Luther Burden: when Missouri has possession, they will have the single most dynamic player on the field. If Mizzou can find a way to get Burden in space, expect him to shine.
- The running game: Mizzou features four capable backs, including the best running back in Division II last year, Cody Schrader. The three guys behind him on the depth chart are all good. If the offensive line has a day like they did against Louisiana Tech, scoring points will be a non-issue.
- Quarterback play: Granted this is a much tougher test than the previous game, but Brady Cook’s poise was refreshing. See two bullets above – if his running game and star receiver show up, Cook will do fine, even against a tougher opponent on the road.
Why Kansas State should be concerned:
- Quarterback, Adrian Martinez is immediately tested against an active Mizzou front, after limited action last week against South Dakota. Dating back to last season at Nebraska, Martinez has thrown 4 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. Martinez’s QB rating over his last four games (all losses) 90.6, 32.9, 11.8, 45.1. All of these teams (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota) were better teams than Missouri is now, but a commonality is the strength of defensive live. If Martinez tries to ad-lib any more than necessary, the Tigers will force turnovers.
- No answer for Luther Burden: the Wildcats needs to shadow Burden all game. Burden out of the Wildcat formation (no pun intended) regularly would not be a shock. Brady Cook will be under center most of the game, but on short yardage I could see Coach Drinkwitz calling Luther’s number, a lot. Louisiana Tech was a warmup game. His playing time was a product of the score. He will be needed more in the Kansas State game and will be on the field for almost every snap.
- Run defense: The Wildcats allowed 4.2 yards per carry against South Dakota. If you remove Coyotes QB, Carson Camp (6 carries/-9 yards) from that line, South Dakota finished with 28 carries for 154 yards – an average of 5.5 per carry. Missouri is too good and too deep at running back. Eli Drinkwitz will look to use play action to stretch the defense some, and then exploit the run defense.
Why Kansas State should be excited:
- Quarterback: the gift and the curse – Adrian Martinez is incredibly talented. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Martinez’s expectations exploded after a great freshman season at Nebraska. His TD to INT ratio, and completion % would never be as good in his next three seasons. He did regain some of the magic last season, impressing at times, throwing for the most yards in a single season in his college career. He is the X factor for Kansas State. The Wildcats have a lot of other pieces in place. They just need steady, dependable QB play. If they get that, they will win.
- Kansas State rarely loses at home when favored. They may not cover the spread, but historically, they do not lose these games. History is on their side, and it is certainly not on the side of the Tigers. As noted earlier, Mizzou has not had a big road win in years.
- Kansas State is highly unlikely to get gashed on the ground the way Louisiana Tech was, allowing the Wildcats to really focus on Brady Cook, Luther Burden, and the passing game. If Kansas State shuts down the passing game, they should handle the Tigers with ease.
Prediction: Mizzou 34 - Kansas State 31
Game: Missouri Tigers vs Kansas State Wildcats
Date: Saturday, September 10, 2022
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, KS
Odds/Point Spread: Wildcats (-7.5) – FanDuel Sportsbook
Total/Over-Under: 56.5 – FanDuel Sportsbook
How to watch: Missouri vs Kansas State: FUBO
Missouri Vs. Louisiana Tech Recap: Missouri Vs. Louisiana Recap
Bleav in Mizzou Show: Episode 2
KC Sports Network: Reactions from Mizzou’s Season-opening win/K-State Preview