The Big 12 and the ACC battle on the day after Christmas when Shreveport, Louisiana, serves as the location of the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, which features the Missouri Tigers and the North Carolina Tar Heels.
This will be the third time these two schools have ever met. The Tigers won the first two; racking up a 27-14 road victory in 1973 and a 24-3 score in Columbia during the 1976 season.
According to the latest Independence Bowl spread, Missouri is favored by 5 points, while the total is listed at 52.5 points.
The Tigers won their last three regular-season games to end up fifth in the Big 12 (5-4). Most recently, Missouri posted a 24-10 victory against the Kansas Jayhawks. Missouri was 2-4 on the road this year, with three of those defeats by less than a touchdown versus bowl squads (Arizona State, Baylor, Kansas State).
The Tigers ranked 33rd in the nation in offense (32 points per contest) while racking up 472 yards per game (236 through the air, 236 rushing). James Franklin completes 63 % of his throws for 2,733 yards and 20 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, and is second on the squad in the running game with 839 yards and 13 TDs on 4.2 yards per tote.
When Franklin hands off, the top rusher was Henry Josey (1,168 yards and nine TDs on 8.1 ypc in 10 contests), who was hurt at the end of the regular season and leaves Franklin the best healthy ball carrier. When Franklin throws, his top targets are T.J. Moe with 54 catches for 649 yards and four scores and Michael Egnew with 47 grabs for 484 yards and three TDs.
The Tiger defense rates 44th nationally in points allowed (23 ppg), surrendering 382 yards per contest (247 passing, 135 via the run) while notching 26 sacks and forcing 20 turnovers.
Andrew Wilson paces the defense with 89 tackles, while Jacquies Smith has a school high five sacks and four forced fumbles with 34 tackles. Kenji Jackson has three interceptions, 71 tackles and one sack, with Like Lambert adding three fumble recoveries, 74 stops and a pick.
E.J. Gaines has a punt return for a TD, and Trey Barrow averages 45 yards per punt.
The Tar Heels are another school (Arizona State, Southern Miss) that will be coached by someone who will not return next year, as Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora will take over for North Carolina after this contest. Carolina finished fourth in the ACC’s Coastal Division (3-5) and comes into this game 2-4 in its past six matchups after starting the year 5-1. The Tar Heels are 1-4 away from home, with the lone win over East Carolina. However, three of its losses overall have come by seven points or fewer.
North Carolina ranks 44th nationally in points allowed (23 points per contest), allowing 353 yards per game (237 passing, 106 running) while totaling 25 sacks and forcing 23 turnovers.
Zach Brown leads this unit with 91 tackles (24 more than any other player) and three forced fumbles, chipping in 5.5 sacks, two picks and a fumble recovery, while Quinton Coples has 7.5 sacks, 51 stops, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Tre Boston paces the squad with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, chipping in 64 stops and a forced fumble.
Offensively, UNC ranks 57th in the country in offense (28 ppg) while recording 396 yards per game (249 via the pass, 147 rushing). Bryn Renner completes 69 % of his passes for 2,769 yards and 27 scores with 12 interceptions. The offensive line has given up 26 sacks.
Dwight Jones is the best pass catcher with 79 grabs (36 more than anyone else) with 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Giovani Bernard paces the rushing game with 1,222 yards and 13 scores on 5.4 yards per attempt.