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Provo • Saturday's BYU-Missouri game will be played in Kansas City, a couple hours' drive away from Missouri's campus in Columbia that was the site of so much racial unrest the past few months that UM football players briefly planned to boycott all football practices, meetings and games until a black graduate student ended his hunger strike.
Still, BYU players and coaches are expecting the Tigers (4-5) to be emotionally charged at Arrowhead Stadium when the teams meet for just the second time. The Cougars downed Missouri 21-17 in the 1983 Holiday Bowl when quarterback Steve Young caught a touchdown pass from running back Eddie Stinnett.
"I am sure there are [going to be] a lot of emotions," linebackers coach Paul Tidwell said after the Cougars practiced indoors Tuesday morning due to the snowstorm that hit Provo. "We do have to start strong and we do have to start fast. Hopefully, we can get the momentum on our side."
Since this is a "normal" week for the Cougars because the game is on Saturday, Tuesday was a hitting day. The team was in full pads and the physicality was pushed up a notch. BYU is expecting Michigan-type physicality from the SEC team, defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi said.
"There is going to be a lot of emotion, and, as a team, it just raises the level of intensity and aggressiveness and really just makes you play harder," Kaufusi said. "I think that's what we want to come out and do."
Running back Adam Hine said the Cougars are used to emotional rivalry games against Utah and Utah State and think they are equipped to handle one Saturday, although there is no angst between the Cougars and Tigers.
"The way we match [UM's emotion] will be by being aggressive, being assignment-sound, and not doing anything extra, but doing what we need to do, and play hard," he said. "… But we will definitely match their aggression and their spirit."
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has obviously got more important things to worry about, but he drew the ire of many BYU fans on Monday in a news conference when he referred to the fact that many Cougars are older than the average college football player.
"A lot of the guys on there are Mormon. They go on missions. So you get 24-year-old freshmen," Pinkel said.
Perhaps the coach doesn't know the missions are only for two years. BYU's oldest freshman is quarterback Tanner Mangum, who is 22.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday that receiver Terenn Houk suffered a concussion against SJSU after catching four passes for 32 yards in the first half. Houk is going through the normal concussion protocol process this week and is questionable for the game.
Also questionable are offensive linemen Kyle Johnson (knee) and Ului Lapuaho (ankle). Offensive lineman Ryker Mathews (knee) played about 30 plays on Friday and is expected to see more playing time on Saturday.
Hine (ankle) and fellow running back Riley Burt (hamstring) were limited as well against the Spartans but should be "close to full strength" for Missouri, Mendenhall said.
Defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi said Tuesday that nose tackle Tevita Mounga has also missed time with a concussion.
BYU has played 28 freshmen this season, tied for third-most in the country, including 16 true freshmen and 12 redshirt freshmen. Only TCU and Rice have played more. … The Cougars are sixth in the nation in sacks, at 3.3 per game, while Missouri is 105th in sacks allowed, at 2.78. … Mendenhall acknowledged he was ill throughout last weekend, including during Friday's game. "I have heard I didn't look so good on TV, but I felt a little worse," he said. "Maybe I don't ever look good."
BYU vs. Missouri
P at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
TV • SEC Network