The Sports Network
By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Missouri Tigers look to bounce back from their first setback of the season, as they square off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Big 12 play this weekend at Jones AT&T Stadium.
The Tigers' national title hopes were dashed last weekend, as they were handled by No.14 Nebraska, 31-17, in a key Big 12 North Division matchup.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed in the way we played," said head coach Gary Pinkel. "I wish we could have played better but they certainly did the right things and played a very, very good game."
Missouri, which was off to its best start since 1960, still has a shot at the North Division title, but would now need Nebraska to lose a game. Both the Tigers and Cornhuskers are tied atop the standings with a 3-1 mark.
TTU meanwhile, resides at the bottom of the South Division with just a 2-4 ledger. The Raiders' struggles were evident last weekend, when they suffered a 45-27 thrashing at Texas A&M.
"It looked like we had the game under control and then it just slipped away from us real quick," stated head coach Tommy Tuberville.
Returning home is no consolation either, as TTU is just 1-2 in its own backyard this season.
This is the eighth all-time meeting between Missouri and TTU on the gridiron, with the Tigers holding a 5-2 edge, including three straight victories.
QB Blaine Gabbert just could not find his rhythm against Nebraska last weekend, as he completed only a 18-of-42 pass attempts for 199 yards and a TD. Normally an efficient passer, Gabbert was under heavy pressure and sacked six times. The Tigers had allowed just seven sacks entering the weekend, and the consistent knockdowns by Nebraska's defense obviously bothered Gabbert, who has completed 64.0 percent of his pass attempts for the year.
Two of Gabbert's favorite targets are Michael Egnew and T.J. Moe, who combined for 12 catches, 141 yards and a TD last weekend. For the season, Egnew tops the roster with 63 catches, while Moe is first with 696 receiving yards and four TDs.
Defensively, the Tigers were simply torched by Nebraska's ground attack, namely Roy Helu Jr. who ripped off 307 yards on just 28 carries. He had three TD runs of over 50 yards against a supposedly solid run defense that was permitting just 114.5 ypg on the ground entering the weekend.
"We came out flat and weren't ready to play. We missed some tackles. They capitalized," stated LB Andrew Gachkar.
Missouri did get three sacks, bringing its total to 24, but failed to come up with a single takeaway and that was damaging. Gachkar paced the defense with nine stops, while Zaviar Gooden logged seven tackles and two sacks. Both players have enjoyed solid campaigns, combining for 106 tackles and 10 TFLs.
The Red Raiders gained 452 total yards, but had three turnovers, including two by the goal line, as they were defeated by TAMU over the weekend.
"We were hoping to keep up with them offensively, and we didn't take advantage of our opportunities," stated coach Tuberville.
QB Taylor Potts didn't have his best game with 227 yards and a TD and he was eventually replaced by Steven Sheffield, who passed for 129 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter. Despite the off game, Potts has had good success this season and has completed 65.4 percent of his throws for 298.5 passing ypg, with 21 TDs and five INTs.
Lyle Leong has developed good chemistry with Potts and he leads the Red Raiders with 588 receiving yards and 13 TDs. He had all three TD catches for TTU last weekend, finishing with five catches for 67 yards.
TTU's defense was ripped apart last weekend by TAMU, which rolled up 623 yards, including 449 through the air.
"For us right now we weren't good enough to stop that offense," stated Tuberville.
The Red Raiders haven't had much success slowing down any offense this season, allowing 449.5 total ypg with 317.4 of those ypg coming through the air. The defense has come up with 11 INTs to help compensate some, but the unit is mostly getting pushed around. Bront Bird currently tops the squad with 72 tackles and he had nine, to go with an INT and fumble recovery in last weekend's loss.