(16) Missouri Tigers (-4.5, 47.5 o/u) vs. (25) Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Florida Citrus Bowl (Thursday, Jan. 1, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern in Orlando) might be overshadowed by the Cotton Bowl, which will be play at the same time, but this matchup between the Missouri Tigers and Minnesota Golden Gophers should be fun to watch.
The Tigers finished the season 10-3, most recently losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 42-13, in the SEC Championship game. Head coach Gary Pinkel knows there is a lot his team can improve on from the title game, but he isn’t going to let the drubbing take away from an otherwise stellar year.
“Certainly, there’s things we have to do to improve … but I’m so very proud of my players, coaches, and this football program. This is a great opportunity,” said Pinkel, who has a school-record 112 victories. “We got a chance to finish strong and we’ll be playing a very good football team.”
Missouri will be looking to build on a recent run of post-season success. The team has won its last two bowl games (including last year’s Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma State) and four of its last six. This year was also Missouri’s fifth season with ten wins or more since 2001.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers finished the season with three losses in their last five games which dropped the team to 8-4 on the year.
With their struggles down the stretch, the Gophers are just thankful to be playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game.
“Bowl games are all good, but we’ve certainly gotten rewarded by going to the Citrus Bowl. I think we all know you want to play in January. We haven’t done that in a long time,” Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said. “I think everybody’s excited. This is another step forward, and we need to take advantage of that step.”
The Gophers bring the nation’s 27th-best running game (224.6 yards per game) to the Citrus Bowl. But they’ll be facing a Missouri team that surrenders just over 131 rushing yards per contest.
The odds have the Tigers as 4.5-point favorites, and the game total is at 47.5 points. Look for the team that controls the line of scrimmage to come out on top.
(Photo credit: Jim Ross; cropped by User:Blueag9. (http://flickr.com/photos/eagle102/2981891872) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)