UNC vs. Missouri Independence Bowl Game Preview


Follow @NN_Keepinitheel

Like us on Facebook

With Great Pleasure I’d like to introduce you to Keeping It Heel’s newest staff writer Travis Suttles.

December 26th 2011 at 5:00pm, marks the time when the University of North Carolina Tarheels attempt to add to their postseason history. The Heels take on the Missouri Tigers in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. Despite the fact that UNC has been forced to deal with a countless issues with the NCAA over the last few years, the team is still primed to make their fourth straight bowl appearance this season.

The Tarheels finished the year with a 7-5 record (3-5 in the ACC), but were 0-3 against top 25 opponents. The teams passing game has once again been their strong point this season, with the team ranking 43rd in the NCAA (with 249.2).

This unit also received a boost this week, when the news broke that star wide receiver Dwight Jones will be able to play against the Tigers. Jones, who set the Tarheels single season record for reception this season with 79, was recently ruled ineligible for this game due to a violation of NCAA rules. However, this week the senior was informed that he was cleared to play in next week’s game. Jones currently leads the ACC in touchdown receptions with 11, and is projected to make it to the NFL level next season. His presents will certainly be a sizable bonus for UNC in their upcoming game.

However, the Tarheels face no easy task in the Missouri Tigers. The team finished with the same record of 7-5 during the 2011 season, going 5-4 in the Big 12. The Tigers on the other hand fared much better against top 25 opponents, going 2-3 on the year. However, this season also marked the end of Missouri’s tenure in the Big 12 conference. Next year, the Tigers will make the move to the South Easter Conference. Due to the fact that this conference is considered by most to be the best in college football, the Tigers will undoubtedly be looking to make a statement that they belong. This year, Missouri was home to one of the best offenses in the country.

Their offense as a whole played well enough to rank 12th in the nation in total yards (with 472.4 a game). Additionally, their run game was nothing short of stellar, ranking 11th in college football with 236.3 a game. While this aspect of the Tigers game took a big hit a few weeks ago when star running back Henry Josey suffered a season ending ligament tear in his left knee, the team looked primed to compensate for his loss. The team has another skilled runner in quarterback James Franklin, as well as a solid option at halfback in Kendial Lawrence.
While all of these statistics and rankings will go a long way in determining UNC’s fate, there is also one other piece of information that must be taken under consideration. Going into Monday night’s game, the Missouri Tigers have been victorious in four of their last five games, with wins over teams like Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. Their only loss came against Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and his Baylor Bears. The Tarheels on the other hand, have had the opposite experience in resent games. The team have come up short in four out of their last six contests, and are looking to right the ship.

While I fully expect the Tarheels to give a respectable effort in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, my prediction is that the team will come up short against Missouri. The Tigers offense simply looks to be too much of a challenge for UNC to match. The fact that recent games dictate that momentum is clearly on the side of Missouri also gives the team an advantage. When you add in the fact that the Tigers, who will be joining the SEC next year, will be looking to make a statement to future opponents while playing in Louisiana, the odds are in the certainty in their favor. My prediction for the game will be a Tigers victory by the score of 23-20.