October 26, 2006

Tigers stay even keel before big game

Dedrick Harrington grew up just about 35 miles from Columbia. He has seen plenty of Tiger football. But he knows he likely has seen little that will compare to what he sees when he runs out of the tunnel shortly before 11:00 on Saturday morning.

Harrington will have the best seat in a nearly-packed house for one of the biggest games to hit Columbia in recent years. How long have Missouri fans been waiting for a game like this Saturday's showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners?

"Years. Years and years and years," said Harrington, a native of Mexico, MO. "It's been a long time coming."

There's nothing unusual about big name opponents playing at Faurot. That happens nearly every year. The last time the Sooners were in town, they were actually much more heavily regarded than they are right now. The 2002 Sooners were a top-five team that escaped with a win on a fake field goal for a touchdown. But this time is different because the Tigers are holding up their end of the deal. Missouri is ranked No. 23 in both polls, is off to the best start in the last three-and-a-half decades, and with a win, will be playing to take total control of the Big 12 North race next weekend against Nebraska.

"It's OU," Daniel said. "They've got a mystique about them."

All of which leads to the Tigers making sure they don't get too high for the game.

"We just try to focus on now," said Gary Pinekl. "As we get into the last third of the season and some of the exciting opportunities that we have, I think it's wise to continue to do that. They'll be aware of all the things out there, but you just try to play your best game and hopefully we can continue to do that."

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