Cat Fight in Columbia
"I hate to say it's a challenge to go on the road, but numbers are numbers, and they indicate its (winning) hard to do," said coach Bill Snyder. "But I am of the mindset that all fields are the same size and it boils down to how you perform between the white lines regardless of where the game is. It's certainly a challenge, but every week is a challenge for us." Winning has recently been a challenge for the 7-2 Tigers, who have lost their last two games to Nebraska, 31-17, and to Texas Tech, 24-17. Yes, both of those games were on the road. Mizzou's been a middle of the road team on offense ranking seventh and sixth, respectively, in rushing (152 yards per game) and passing (255) in the Big 12 Conference. Still, Snyder is impressed with MU quarterback Blaine Gabbert, despite his quarterback efficiency rating that ranks 10th in the league. "I like his toughness. What I don't like is that he's awfully good," said Snyder. "He throws the ball well, has a good arm, is a good scrambler, and they can run the option and quarterback draws with him. He does everything that he does with a high degree of toughness." After being the victim of 35 rushing yards and 239 passing yards with three touchdowns by Gabbert in a 38-12 loss to MU last year, KSU defensive end Antonio Felder said of the Tiger signal caller, "The difference that I see from him is his maturity and the fact that he uses his feet more. I think this year he wants to run more." While the Tigers have no one rushing for more than De'Vion Moore's 41 yards per game, Gabbert has two of the league's top receivers in tight end Michael Egnew and wide receiver T.J. Moe, who have caught 66 and 65 balls, respectively. MU has made its living on defense as it leads the league with a scoring defense of 16.3 points per game. That includes a defense that leads the league in sacks (2.89 per game), ranks third in tackles for a loss (7.0) and ranks third in interceptions (12). "They're long, they have good height and they're athletic," Snyder said of the MU defense. "They can go with four defensive ends in the game and they're a fast football team across the board." KEY TO THE GAME: Like last week, scoring early could be pivotal. In its nine collective first quarters, MU has out-pointed its opponents 77-44. With the Wildcats, it's only a 37-28 margin. SNYDER GOING HOME ... SORT OF: A graduate of Lafayette High School in St. Joseph, Mo., Snyder first attended the University of Missouri for one semester where, in his words, he was one of around 100 members of the freshman team coached by Al Onofrio, who would later become the head coach of the Tigers. "This is the truth. I was the 10th team quarterback," Snyder said. "That's not 10th team overall, that was 10th team among the freshmen. They played a T-formation, and I had never played anything but single-wing all my life. I had never had a hand under center in my life." Snyder quipped, "I think the only thing coach Onofrio ever said in reference to me was, 'Who's that guy over there?' " Off the field, he says, "I took 15 hours, and certainly didn't pass them all in my only semester at Missouri." Could Snyder have stayed for the second semester? "I don't know. I didn't stay around long enough to find out." SERIES NOTES: MU 59, KSU 31, Ties 5 ... MU has won the last four games and scored at least 38 points in each of them ... Bill Snyder is 14-4 vs. Mizzou and 5-1 against Gary Pinkel ... The Tigers have won 28 of their last 33 games played at Faurot Field. UPDATING MR. THOMAS: In nine games this season, Daniel Thomas has rushed for 1,102 yards, which is the best first nine-game start to a season in K-State history. Thomas' career (21 games) total of 2,367 yards now ranks fourth in KSU history only behind Darren Sproles (4,979), Ell Roberson (2,818) and Eric Hickson (2,537). Thomas also has 23 TDs to rank tied for sixth in Wildcat history, and his 11 100-yard rushing games is second only to Sproles, who had 24 in a four-year career. Sproles currently ranks second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally in rushing with his average of 122 yards per game. THOMAS A WALKER SEMIFINALIST: Thomas has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2010 Doak Walker Award, which goes to college football's top running back. Of the 10 semifinalists, three hail from the Big 12 as Thomas is joined by Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray. Rounding out the field are John Clay of Wisconsin, Mark Ingram of Alabama, LaMichael James of Oregon, Bilal Powell of Louisville, Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State, Vai Taua of Nevada and Ed Wesley of TCU. QUOTEABLE QUOTE: Asked Tuesday which quarterback would start - Carson Coffman or Collin Klein - against MU, Snyder answered, "Flip a coin. Who do you want? I'm not all together certain yet." Coffman missed the Texas game with an ankle injury, but Snyder reported that he's been 100 percent in practices this week. Klein's 127 rushing yards was the highest total for a K-State quarterback making his first career start. Ell Roberson rushed for 119 against USC in 2001. IN THE NUMBERS: 2.89 - MU ranks 11th nationally averaging 2.89 sacks per game.15 - MU has 15 seniors playing in their home finale. This senior class has 37 wins, which is one shy of the school record for "class victories."15-7 - Blaine Gabbert is 15-7 as a starting QB for the Tigers.17-24 - In this week's BCS poll, MU is ranked No. 17 and K-State No. 24.90 - KSU has scored on 90 percent of its trips into the Red Zone, which ranks 12th in the country.100 - Missouri's 3rd down conversion rate of .346 ranks only No. 100 in the nation.147 - Mizzou has allowed only 147 points, which is 44 points fewer than any other Big 12 team.214 - Daniel Thomas has 214 rushing attempts, which is high in the Big 12. PLAYERS TO WATCH:K-STATE: • QB COLLIN KLEIN (No. 7) could be the starter again after leading the 'Cats to victory over Texas by rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns.• DE PRIZELL BROWN (No. 46) moved out to defensive end from his defensive tackle position with that likely being his permanent home.• LB TRE WALKER (No. 50) is getting more and more snaps as a true freshman at linebacker. His role will likely be beefed up with leading tackler Alex Hrebec likely out with an arm injury. MISSOURI:• QB BLAINE GABBERT (No. 11) has completed 62 percent of his passes for 244 yards per game. He has passed for 12 TDs to only four interceptions.• TE MICHAEL EGNEW (No. 82) and T.J. MOE (No. 28) have caught 66 and 65 passes, respectively, and have combined for seven touchdowns. Egnew has caught more passes than any other tight end in the nation.• LB ZAVIAR GOODEN (No. 25) has secured 59 tackles with three sacks and three more for losses. He also has two interceptions, four passes broken up and two fumble recoveries. NEXT WEEK: K-State's game with Colorado next Saturday will have a 1:10 kickoff. We'll keep you posted next week on possible viewing options that may arise. K-State concludes its year on Nov. 27 at North Texas.