Missouri Tigers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels and the Missouri Tigers meet in Shreveport for the AvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. The Tigers are -5.5 point favorites over the Tar Heels with an over/under point total set at 53.
It’s been a turbulent two years for the North Carolina Tar Heels football program but once again they find themselves in a bowl game. It will mark Everett Withers last game as the interim Head Coach as Larry Fedora has been hired and will be taking over immediately following this one. Withers was forced into his current position after Butch Davis was released shortly before the start of the season. Bryn Renner took over at QB this year and he has completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,769 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Freshman Giovani Bernard has all of the tools and he looks like he is going to be a great one as he averaged 5.4 yards per carry for 1,222 yards and 13 touchdowns. Dwight Jones had 79 receptions and 11 touchdowns, Erik Highsmith had 43 catches, and Bernard added 39 catches. Defensively UNC had 13 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries and 25 sacks and allowed 23.5 points and 352.9 yards per game and the Tar Heels had the 16th rushing defense in the nation. Zack Brown has 91 tackles, Kevin Reddick has 67 tackles, and Quinton Couples has 7.5 sacks. While Davis is gone he is one of the game’s best recruiters and he didn’t leave the cupboard bare as the Heels are stocked with talented players.
The Missouri Tigers once again find themselves in a bowl game and while Gary Pinkel’s team once again lost a top tier QB they still managed to win plenty. Mizzou won their final three games of the season to turn a losing season into a winning one and to make it to this game. James Franklin was impressive at QB improving as the season went on completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,733 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while rushing for 839 yards and 13 touchdowns. Missouri’s leading rusher, Henry Josey, was injured late in the season and he won’t be available for this one but Kendial Lawrence and De’Vion Moore each are plenty talented and have plenty of experience. T.J. Moe is a playmaker with 54 catches and Michael Egnew is one of the counties best tight ends and he has 47 catches. Defensively Missouri has 12 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries, and 26 sacks and they allow 382.2 yards and 23.5 points per game. Andrew Wilson has 89 tackles and Luke Lambert and Zaviar Gooden each have 74 tackles. Pinkel seems to put out winner after winner but still flies well under the radar when it comes to name recognition when mentioning the top coaches in the nation.
North Carolina is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games, 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games following a cover, and 19-9 against the spread in their last 28 games as an underdog. Missouri is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games following a game which they didn’t cover, 2-5 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games, and 1-4 against the spread in their last five bowl games as a favorite.
The total in this one is set at 53 and with both teams being pretty solid and athletic defensively I see this one coming in comfortably under the number and my pick will be under 53.