2011 Independence Bowl Preview
Missouri Tigers vs North Carolina Tar Heels
For a season that started with high expectations, the Missouri Tigers probably didn’t land in the postseason destination they had hoped for. Coach Gary Pinkel’s team was selected to play in the Independence Bowl this past Sunday. Sadly for the Tigers, Shreveport, Louisiana, is a familiar location for the Missouri faithful. This will be the third time in nine years that the Tigers will be playing in the Independence Bowl.
And people wondered why the higher-ups in Columbia were looking so hard to get out of the Big 12 Conference.
The thing that is extra hard for people in Missouri to wrap their heads around is that their Tigers were passed over by four Big 12 bowl games that selected teams with worse or identical records. This should come as no surprise to Missouri fans, who have gotten used to being left behind when bowl selection time comes around. If you really want to get a Missouri Tiger’s blood boiling just bring up the BCS bowl selection process in 2007, when Mizzou beat Kansas late in the season but got passed over for the Orange Bowl by the Jayhawks.
Despite all of this, there is still a football game that needs to played against a very competitive bunch from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hopefully there are no Christmas hangovers for both teams, since the game between the Tigers and coach Everett Withers’s Tar Heels is the day after Christmas.
When you start to compare both of these teams, there are lots of similarities that come to mind. The Tar Heels and Tigers are very similar in that all of their losses but one came on the road and most of their losses were by margins of under two touchdowns. Don’t be expecting a blowout on either side.
Missouri lost each and every one of its games to teams that – while not finishing the year in the top 25 – were ranked at the time they took on the Tigers. The list includes at Arizona State, at Oklahoma, at Kansas State, Oklahoma State and at Baylor. The Tar Heels lost to teams that were ranked as well: at Georgia Tech, Miami, at Clemson, and at Virginia Tech. Only North Carolina State was an unranked team when it beat the Tar Heels
The comparisons and similarities do not end there. If you continue to dig deep and look at position players, especially quarterback, you will find that both universities have sophomores who took over for quarterbacks that left for the NFL. Both of those quarterbacks are doing extremely well for being first-year starters.
For North Carolina there is Bryn Renner, who finished the regular season with almost nine yards per attempt and a QB efficiency rating of 161.2. On the other sideline stands James Franklin of Missouri. Franklin had an impressive 7.75 yards per attempt average, which resulted in a 141.3 efficiency rating.
Buckle your chin strap and get ready for a barnburner… even though it’s in Shreveport and not San Diego.
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