Underdog Tigers take on Oklahoma
Story by Ryan Gavin
Friday afternoon at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, both MU football coach Gary Pinkel and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops fielded questions from the media for the final time before Saturday’s Big 12 Conference Championship. The game, which starts at 7 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium, will be televised nationally on ABC and is a rematch of last year’s game in San Antonio, Texas. The Tigers head in to the game as the underdog, but Pinkel hinted that Mizzou might enjoy that role.
“It’s a little bit easier because of all that was involved last year,” Pinkel said, reflecting on how Missouri was ranked No. 1 after beating Kansas last year and was likely a win away from playing for the National Championship. “That will probably never happen again. That was more difficult than this is.”
This year, Oklahoma is No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and a win away from playing in the National Championship. Could the Tigers pull off the upset and exact a little revenge?
“I think you draw from that,” Pinkel said. “You want to prove people wrong. You show them that. It’s a little added incentive, without a question.”
While several Big 12 favorites have gone on to play in prominent bowls and even the National Championship, its not like upsets have never happened. In 2003, Kansas State faced a heavily favored Oklahoma team in Kansas City. The Wildcats went in to the season with championship hopes, but in losing a string of games during the season, fell out of contention. However, that talented Wildcats squad came together for a 35-7 rout of the Sooners — a situation very similar to the one this year’s Tiger team faces.
Still, the Tigers know the numbers. Under Pinkel, they’re 0-6 against the Sooners and widely expected to go to 0-7.
“We had to overcome a lot of hurdles at Missouri,” Pinkel, who has already checked off items such as winning against Nebraska; winning in Manhattan, Kansas; and winning Big 12 North titles. “This is one of them still left. I don’t think there’s any question: Our guys are dying to win this game.”