While the Arizona State Sun Devils are indeed a revamped version of last year’s squad that took down the Tigers in Tucson 37-30 in overtime, they still come to Columbia with the confidence of a 2-0 start. Missouri, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back from an emotional home loss to Georgia, and will be licking its chops to get back out onto the field. In order to roll some confidence over to its September 22nd trip to South Carolina, Missouri will have to try to figure out how to contain the high octane Sun Devils.
Arguably Arizona State’s three biggest stars from last year, QB Brock Osweiler, WR Aaron Pflugrad, and LB Vontaze Burfict, have all graduated, which is great news for Missouri considering what happened last year. Osweiler (24/32 353 yds 3 TDs) was burning Mizzou safeties to Pflugrad (8 rec 180 yds 2 TDs) at crucial moments in the game, most notably a 60-yard bomb late in the first half and a third down completion in overtime that set up the game winning score. On the other side of the ball, Burfict was causing problems for Mizzou’s O-line all day with his speed off the edge (which somehow didn’t quite translate into a solid 40-yard dash at the combine). As evidenced from last week’s Georgia game, Offensive Coordinator David Yost seems to have trouble with speedy linebackers (*ahem Jarvis Jones…).
Luckily, Coach Gary Pinkel doesn’t have to fret the trio wreaking havoc again this year, and Mizzou fans will be spared the seemingly endless references to the height of Brock Osweiler by the broadcasting crew.
But, the Sun Devils’ passing game has been incredible this year, completing nearly 80% of passes for almost 600 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. While Northern Arizona and Illinois don't have spectacular defenses, this is still impressive considering ASU quarterbacks had only attempted four (4!) career passes prior to this season.
This efficient passing game is set up by a potent running attack that begins with dual threat quarterbacks Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank. Each – along with three separate running backs – have carried the ball over 10 times, which is a problem for a Mizzou linebacking corps that will be without senior captain Zaviar Gooden this week.
The Sun Devils bring an intriguing offense to The Zou this Saturday, having outscored their opponents 108-20 in just two games this season. The Tigers will have to be equally crafty on defense in order to stifle what DT Sheldon Richardson hopefully does not overlook as “old man football.”