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Missouri vs. North Carolina
Saturday, Dec. 26, 5:00 pm
Many believe the real bowl season doesn’t begin until after Christmas Day. If you subscribe to that theory, the Independence Bowl will kick off this year’s bowl season on Dec. 26. North Carolina and Missouri both finished the regular season with a 7-5 record. The Tar Heels dropped four of their last six games, while the Tigers won their last three contests. This may not be a marquee bowl, but I believe it has the potential to be a quality game. North Carolina has been in the news quite a bit lately because of the hiring of Larry Fedora. Fedora has done a great job with the Southern Miss football program, and he will take over the UNC program right after this bowl game. Interim coach Everitt Withers will still be the team’s head coach for the Independence Bowl. How will the players respond to the fact that Fedora is coming on board and Withers may no longer be with the team? Changing coaches right before a bowl game always creates more question marks about how well prepared the team will be.
After the team’s disappointing loss to Baylor in early November, the Missouri Tigers could have folded up the tent for the year. Instead, the team bounced back and put together three solid victories to finish off the regular season.
The last few games of the season didn’t come without some unnecessary drama for the Missouri football team, however. Coach Gary Pinkel was arrested in mid-November for driving under the influence. He pled guilty, and the school suspended him from coaching the team’s final regular season game. Pinkel is back coaching the team, and Tigers fans hope all of the negativity from that arrest is now in the past.
Bryn Renner had a successful first year as the starting quarterback for North Carolina. As he develops over the next couple years, Renner has the potential to turn into one of the best quarterbacks in football because of his raw ability. The Tar Heels defense was tremendous against the run this year, but they struggled against the pass. James Franklin excelled in his role as a dual-threat quarterback at the helm of the Missouri offense. Franklin’s running ability really makes it tough on the defense, because the Tigers always have two good runners in the backfield at all times.
Henry Josey had a massive breakout season this year. Missouri enters this game ranked 11th in the nation in rushing offense. T.J. Moe’s numbers are down quite a bit from last year, but he is still the Tigers most dangerous receiver on the outside. The Tigers defense has allowed a lot of yards this year, but they generally do a good job limiting opponents to field goals.
Neither of these teams is great this year, but both of them are solid. Both fan bases generally travel well, so I don’t see a big home-field advantage for either team here. I expect the turnover margin to be extremely important in this one. Both defenses seem to have improved quite a bit at the end of the year. I think the best play in this one is the ‘under’. I have Missouri winning this game by 4 points and looking at the pointspread it doesnt surprise me that the linemakers are concurring with Spooky.
Right now there is no possible way to make an opinion on this game and we will wait until closer to game time to see what develops.
And now that its game time nothing has changed. Really this has to be a game that has the earmarks of a no play. But that is usually not in my vocabulary. This may be the smallest wager of the bowl season so take it for what its worth.