Team preview: Missouri

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(All information as of June 20, 2007)


Gary Pinkel's Tigers burst onto the national scene last year. The trick is to stay there all season, a feat they hope to accomplish in 2007.

Mizzou won its first six games last year and peaked at No. 19 in the national polls as observers around the country buzzed about the team's record-setting offense. But the Tigers stubbed their toes at Texas A&M and went on to lose four of the next five games to fall off the radar screen of the big bowl scouts. They sewed up a Sun Bowl berth with a rout of Kansas, then lost a shootout to Oregon State in El Paso.

This year, the Tigers return the majority of the players from the No. 8 offense in the country (425.6 yards per game) -- in fact, virtually all of the skill players are back, with 98 percent of the offensive yards returning this year. They've finished second in the Big 12 North the last three seasons, but with mighty Nebraska coming back to the pack a bit, the Tigers are gunning for their first conference title since 1969. They also can go to a third straight bowl game for the first time since 1979-81.

All that after only two winning seasons from 1984-2002, and without four-year starting quarterback Brad Smith under center last year. The key to the Tigers continuing that success, says their head coach, is eliminating mistakes.