Key matchups, TV information and a prediction for Missouri’s final game of the 2017 season: the Texas Bowl vs. the Texas Longhorns.
When: Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
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Radio: KMBZ (98.1 FM)
The line: Missouri by 2.5
The lowdown: Barry Odom leads Missouri, 7-5, into its first bowl game in three years. The Tigers face an old Big 12 foe in Texas, which struggled throughout the season. Missouri enters the game on a six-game winning streak after a disastrous 1-5 start and has comfortably beat opponents in most of its last six games. Texas will be without about eight players due to injury, suspension and early declarations for the NFL Draft, which gives Missouri the edge in a few areas. Texas coach Tom Herman has said that he will play two quarterbacks — Shane Buechele, a sophomore, and freshman Sam Ehlinger — and see who does better as the game progresses.
Missouri’s keys to success: Make plays in the secondary. Missouri’s secondary was awful at the beginning of the year, came alive in the middle of the year and then struggled in the regular-season finale against Arkansas. The Tigers have played a lot of underclassmen at the safety and cornerback positions throughout the year and saw significant contributions as the year went on from the likes of Adam Sparks and DeMarkus Acy. Missouri’s secondary needs to prove that bad play in the Arkansas game was a fluke.
Texas’ keys to success: Get good quarterback play early. Herman said he’s playing both quarterbacks because neither has done much to rattle his trust. If Hermann goes into halftime still questioning who to go with, it’s going to be a long night for UT. If he has his answer halfway through the first quarter, things could get interesting.
Key matchup: ‘D-Line Zou’ vs. Texas’ offensive line. The Longhorns will be without tackle Connor Williams, who is skipping the game after declaring early for the NFL Draft. Missouri’s pass rush has come alive in the second half of the season with the return of nose tackle A.J. Logan, who was suspended the first six games for a violation of team rules, and a healthy Marcell Frazier. Frazier told the media on Tuesday that he played through a shoulder injury and torn quad for most of the year and didn’t feel like himself until the Georgia game on Oct. 14. If Missouri’s pass rush can keep up its strong play, it won’t really matter who is under center for Texas.
Prediction: Missouri 35, Texas 17. Most bowl games are about which team wants to be there. Frazier said Missouri is treating this one as if it’s the national-title game, and the Tigers have practiced at their best since getting to Houston. Texas has a number of key guys who won’t play and can’t decide on a quarterback. Missouri gets its eighth win with ease.