INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana coach Kevin Wilson already has a pretty good sense of what to expect Saturday night.
He and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel have matched wits and recruited against one another in two other conferences, and they subscribe to similar offensive philosophies. So expect a good, old-fashioned wide-open shootout — just like these coaches used to have in the Big 12. Except, of course, this time Wilson represents the Big Ten and Pinkel the SEC.
"It really takes me back to playing in the Big 12 and the way they like to throw the ball," Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines said.
The SEC has had the upper hand against the Big Ten and just about every other conference in America over the last decade, and Saturday's game marks the first head-to-head matchup between the two power conferences this season.
On paper, it looks relatively even.
Missouri (2-0) has started strong after going 5-7 last season and has a fifth-year quarterback running one of the nation's top offenses. Indiana (2-1) is attempting to overcome years of frustration, including last season's 4-8 mark and, like Missouri, has been scoring points by the dozens.
Nothing new there.
But Wilson also understands his team can't afford to make mistakes against a typically disciplined Pinkel-coached team.
"They're not going to play sloppy. They're not going to turn it over," Wilson said. "They have good balance on O, good defense, solid football team. You've got to beat a team like that. They're not going to lose the game. You have to play well to beat teams like this."
Here are five things to watch Saturday:
1. LIGHT 'EM UP: Indiana and Missouri are both ranked among the top 10 nationally in scoring. The Hoosiers average 50.0 points per game, Missouri 48.0. Don't expect much to change this week. While the Tigers have allowed 18.5 points, this will easily be their toughest non-conference matchup they've had. Indiana's defense, meanwhile, played much better last week than the previous one. While the Hoosiers are yielding 28.7 points, that number has been skewed because two turnovers and a blocked punt were returned for touchdowns.