October 19, 2010

Tuesday Tiger Notebook

Missouri has played some big games in recent years. The Oklahoma game in Norman in 2007. The Kansas game at Arrowhead the same year. The Big XII title games in both '07 and 2008. But as far as games in Columbia, perhaps none have been as big as this weekend's showdown with Oklahoma.

"In Columbia?" senior captain Kevin Rutland asked. "Ahhh...Biggest game since, uh..."

Rutland struggled to find an answer. He wasn't alone.

"This is going to be the biggest game probably since, man," Carl Gettis says searching for the rest of his sentence. "This game is gonna be the biggest game ever. In my time, since I've been here."

"Well, from what I hear, the sixties, or something like that," Andrew Gachkar said. "I don't know."

There may have been a game this big. Then again, maybe not. To find one, perhaps go back to 1960. That year, Missouri faced Kansas in the regular season finale at Faurot. That was the game the Jayhawks won on the field 23-7, only to later have it taken away for using an ineligible player. That year was also the last time Missouri started a season by winning its first seven games.

There are those Tigers, of course, who would prefer to approach this as just another game.

"I'm just preparing like it's any other week," Blaine Gabbert said. "These are just distractions. You can't worry about everybody that's on campus, the buzz that's going around. You just got to worry about playing Oklahoma and prepare like you have all year long."

Oh yeah, the distractions. There is the normal hype that surrounds any game matching unbeaten teams this late in the season. It is also Homecoming. And a prime-time nationally televised game. And the presence of ESPN College Game Day, making its first ever venture to Columbia.

"I've been told," Gary Pinkel deadpanned when asked about the distractions. "I'm not going to be at Game Day."

"We can't throw a Game Day party," Gachkar said.

Not that the Tigers mind having the national spotlight on their game this weekend.

"We're proud to have that," Gachkar said. "We've earned it."

"Hopefully we'll have thousands and thousands of Mizzou fans," Pinkel said. "It's great certainly for the University of Missouri, for our community...I think it's a way that sport can have a huge positive influence on our great university.

"The exposure is phenomenal. We don't have a bank account big enough to be able to get this kind of exposure."

And the buzz, well, that can't be denied.

"My teacher brought it up," Kip Edwards said. "He was like, 'Oh, no, we are not having class on Friday. College Game Day's gonna be here, I have to be there."

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