The Big XII Conference  > Group Message Board  > Tigers top out the North
July 27, 2007, 05:27 AM
Tigers get Big 12 North nod over NU
BY DIRK CHATELAIN
WORLD-HERALD BUREAU



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LINCOLN ??? Missouri has played football in the Big 12 for 11 seasons.

Never has it entered a season's final weekend with a chance to win the North Division. In fact, Mizzou hasn't finished better than 4-4 in league play since 1998. But Gary Pinkel's Tigers are ready to buck tradition, according to the Big 12 media.

Of 24 media members who returned ballots, 16 predicted that Missouri would play in the Big 12 championship game in San Antonio. The other eight selected Nebraska.

The basis of that prediction appears to be Missouri's home-field advantage in an Oct. 6 tussle with the Huskers ??? NU hasn't won in Columbia since Eric Crouch baffled the black and gold in 2001. Having a known quantity under center doesn't hurt the Tigers, either.

"My reasoning was that Missouri comes in with a proven quarterback. Nebraska doesn't with (Sam) Keller," said B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News reporter. Picking Missouri "was fairly easy for me."

Some writers who didn't vote in the poll aren't sold on the Tigers.

"The world's gone mad," said Berry Tramel, sports talk-show host in Oklahoma City and columnist for the Oklahoman. "When's Missouri ever won one? I don't like the pick at all. I know they play (Nebraska) in Missouri, but I'm going to have to see it to believe it . . . I'm not impressed with anything about Missouri football."

Kevin Haskin, columnist for the Topeka Capital-Journal, said Pinkel "has a way of coming through with an inexplicable loss every season that might keep them from winning a title."

Led by junior quarterback Chase Daniel, Missouri returns 15 starters off last year's 8-5 team that tied for second in the North at 4-4. Tight ends Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman are considered two of the nation's best. But Mizzou, often a trendy pick to break through, hasn't met expectations in recent years.

The Tigers started 7-1 last year before losing three straight to Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa State. Since 1999, Missouri's conference record after Oct. 26 is 9-23. Seven of those eight seasons, the Tigers have dropped three of their last four games.

"I'm surprised that Nebraska wasn't the pick because of past history," said Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News columnist. "It wouldn't surprise me if Nebraska is in a two-game hole to Missouri in the middle of October and they still catch them."

The media picked Texas to win the South with 16 first-place votes to second-place Oklahoma's seven. Texas A&M received one vote.

Kansas State was picked third in the North followed by Kansas, Colorado and Iowa State. In the South, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor rounded out the poll.

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