When Kansas has the ball
Kansas rush offense vs. Missouri rush defense
Due to an undisclosed leg injury to true freshman running back Toben Opurum, the Jayhawks will be playing without their leader in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns (nine). Opurum looked good in last week’s loss to the Longhorns, breaking a 12-yard run on third-and-one to give Kansas a first down, but senior Jake Sharp was far less effective after Opurum left the game, rushing nine times for just 22 yards.
Even with a healthy Opurum in the lineup, Kansas has failed to rush for 100 yards in six consecutive games — all losses — dating back to an Oct. 10 victory over Iowa State.
Kansas pass offense vs. Missouri pass defense
Despite failing to throw a touchdown pass for just the second time all season, QB Todd Reesing looked solid in last week’s loss to UT. He completed 25 of 39 passes for 256 yards and took advantage of standout WR Dezmon Briscoe, who caught five passes for 101 yards.
Missouri’s performance against the pass this year, meanwhile, has been far from flawless. The Tigers rank just 89th nationally in pass defense and gave up 427 yards through the air in a loss to Baylor two weeks ago.
When Missouri has the ball
Missouri rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
MU leading rusher Derrick Washington, who left the team’s 34-24 victory over Iowa State last week with a concussion, is expected to return today against Kansas. Washington, who has been taking direct snaps lately out of the Tigers’ “jumbo” formation, was averaging 5.6 yards per carry before last Saturday’s game and has eight touchdowns on the ground.
Kansas, meanwhile, has given up 136 or more rushing yards in their past three games, including 266 in a loss to Kansas State.
Missouri pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
The Tigers feature arguably the Big 12’s best receiver in Danario Alexander, who leads the conference in receiving yards (1,411) and is tied for the lead in receptions per game (8.36) and touchdowns (14). Following an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness early in the season, MU quarterback Blaine Gabbert has rebounded in recent weeks and is currently 11th nationally in passing yards (2,999) while throwing for 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Based on what Texas was able to do against the Jayhawks last week — UT quarterback Colt McCoy completed 32 of 41 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns — it could be a long day for the Jayhawks’ secondary.
The Jayhawks are coming off their best special-teams performance of the season against Texas. Dezmon Briscoe’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown marked the first special-teams score of the year for Kansas, and Daymond Patterson recorded his longest punt return — 32 yards — of the season as well. For most of the season, however, the unit has struggled mightily.
Missouri kicker Grant Ressel has connected on 20-of-21 field goals this season — best in the Big 12 — and punter Jake Harry IV has averaged 42.1 yards per punt, fourth-best in the conference.