Nevada (1-1) at Missouri (2-0)

Light Rain Currently: Columbia, MO
Temp: 38° F
  • Game info: 12:30 pm EDT Sat Sep 13, 2008
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Chase Daniel was in New York last season as a Heisman Trophy finalist as he led Missouri to its highest season-ending ranking since 1936.

If the quarterback is planning to make a return trip to the Big Apple - and potentially become the first player in school history to win the award - he’s off to a good start.

Daniel and the sixth-ranked Tigers will get another chance to showcase their impressive passing attack on Saturday when they host Nevada in a matchup pitting two of the nation’s top 10 offenses.

Missouri (2-0) went 12-2 last season, which it ended with a No. 4 ranking - the school’s highest finish in the AP poll in 71 years. Daniel, then a junior, led the way, leading the country’s fifth-best offense (492.7 yards per game) and finishing fourth in the Heisman balloting.

Daniel is off to another strong start in 2008. He threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-42 win over then-No. 20 Illinois on Aug. 30, then barely needed to work up a sweat against Southeast Missouri State last Saturday.

He went 16-for-17 for 245 yards and three touchdowns - leading five consecutive scoring drives - before leaving midway through the second quarter in Missouri’s 52-3 win.

“We played exactly like we should have played,” said Daniel, who needs 52 passing yards to surpass Brad Smith as the school’s all-time leader. “No matter if it’s USC, Alabama, (Southeast Missouri), it doesn’t matter. We want to score every time we get the football.”

The Tigers may need to do just that against Nevada (1-1). Missouri has the nation’s fourth-ranked offense (570.5 ypg) through two weeks, but the Wolf Pack are right behind, putting up 558.5 yards per game to rank sixth in the country.

Nevada got a good test in preparing for high-scoring Missouri in its latest game, facing another Big 12 offensive juggernaut in No. 12 Texas Tech, which had the nation’s second-ranked offense in 2007. The Wolf Pack held the Red Raiders to a relatively low 421 yards of offense and intercepted quarterback Graham Harrell twice.

Despite racking up 488 yards itself, though, Nevada had trouble putting the ball in the end zone. The Wolf Pack settled for three field goals inside the red zone, went 3-for-16 on third downs and lost 35-19.

“We let one get away from us,” said quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has 197 rushing yards in two games. “Offense got in the red zone too many times unsuccessfully but our defense stepped up and did great.”

Nevada features the nation’s fifth-best rushing offense at 325.0 yards per game, but it may find running room a bit more scarce against Missouri. The Wolf Pack lost Luke Lippincott, the leading returning rusher in the Western Athletic Conference, to a torn knee ligament against Texas Tech.

The Tigers had to replace last season’s Cotton Bowl MVP Tony Temple in the backfield for 2008, but Derrick Washington has made that task relatively painless thus far. The sophomore is averaging 7.3 yards per carry in two games and has four touchdowns.

“He’ll get a lot better too,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “He’s got very, very good hands, he catches like a wide receiver or a tight end. He’s a very strong, powerful guy.”

With Daniel throwing to a cast including star tight end Chase Coffman and all-purpose threat Jeremy Maclin, the Missouri passing game seems to be in good shape. The pass defense, though, is another story.

The Tigers have allowed an average of 350.5 yards and five touchdowns through the air in their first two games, though Pinkel believes circumstances have inflated that statistic.

“If we get a huge lead, people are going to be throwing the ball all the time,” he said.

Missouri has never faced Nevada. The Tigers are 6-0-1 all-time against the current members of the WAC.

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