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Independence Bowl Odds: Missouri Favored By A Field Goal

In a match-up of two 7-5 teams undergoing a program-wide transition, the Missouri Tigers are favored by -3.5 points over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2011 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

While Missouri is abandoning over a century's worth of tradition with their former Big 8 rivals in the Midwest to go the SEC, North Carolina is playing under an interim coach and washing away the last vestiges of the Butch Davis era in Chapel Hill, which brought both an unprecedented amount of NFL talent and the scandals that often come with it.

The Tar Heels recently hired Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora, but interim coach Everitt Withers will coach them during the Independence Bowl before moving on to become part of Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State.

In a match-up of strength on strength, Gary Pinkel's offense will try to spread out a talented North Carolina team that features at least two projected first-round picks: 6'6 285 DE Quinton Coples and 6'2 240 OLB Zach Brown.

Missouri scores 32.2 points a game, 32nd in the nation, and they are led by dual-threat sophomore QB James Franklin, who passed for 2,733 yards and 20 TD's and rushed for 839 yards and 13 TD's this season.

North Carolina counters with a similarly inexperienced backfield of sophomore QB Bryn Renner, who completed 68.8% of his passes for 2,769 yards, 23 TD's and 13 INT's, and freshman RB Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 1,222 yards and 13 TD's on 5.4 yards per carry in his first season in Chapel Hill.

Missouri's defense, meanwhile, has held up surprisingly well in the high-scoring Big 12, giving up only 23.5 points a game despite facing the vast number of high-scoring offense in the conference.

That competition should serve them well against their bowl opponent, who did not challenge themselves in non-conference play and faced only three ranked teams in the ACC all season.