November 30, 2007

Part 4: Big 12 Championship's Big Questions

Each day leading up to the Big 12 Championship game, our resident experts will break down one of the key questions surrounding the matchup between the Tigers and the Sooners.

Today's Question: How much of a factor is Oklahoma's experience in games like this?

Josh McCuistion of I don't think there is any denying that Oklahoma's experience plays a factor. Last week against Kansas I thought that was the Jayhawks biggest advantage, the fact that head coach Mark Mangino and defensive coordinator Bill Young had ample experience in big game scenarios. In the case of Oklahoma, the entire staff has taken part in either a national championship game or is at least entering into their second Big 12 championship game and again I see that as a distinct advantage. I know many write it off as another game, and while I think that simply is what must be done from the Missouri side of things, I don't think anyone in black and gold can say this is anything less than the biggest game in school history. With the Tigers all of a week removed from what was previously the biggest game a team from Columbia has taken part in, I think it's hard for a lot of perspective to be carried by the team. The thing that does hurt Oklahoma is that while some of this team was a big role in last year's Big 12 championship run there are a lot of young players, like Missouri, taking the first real serious action in a championship game. So in the end I think the sidelines is where the biggest advantage lies to the Sooners.

Gabe DeArmond of I agree completely here. I think the one thing that has to at least be somewhere in the minds of most Tiger fans is this: Is Missouri just happy to be here? I've said myself the goal was to win the North and play in this game. I think this season has exceeded the expectations of all but the most wildly optimistic Missouri fan. Now that they're here, and there is so much more out there, are the Tigers satisfied or still driven? Outside of Sam Bradford, just about every contributor for the Sooners has at least played in a Big 12 title game. Missouri doesn't have a guy who has played in one ever. It has to be a factor. However, on the flip side, one good thing for Missouri is that even though the venue and the stakes are new, this isn't an unfamiliar situation completely. Ever since losing to Oklahoma, the Tigers have known they had to win every single Saturday or they probably would not even have a chance to play in this game. They've stood up to that pressure and answered the bell every time. But, yes, this is the biggest wild card in the game. Oklahoma knows how to act because they've done this so often. Missouri has to prove they can handle the situation. and will answer a different question each day this week

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