When: Jan. 1, 1pm EST
Where: Orlando, FL; Florida Citrus Bowl
Spread: Missouri -5.5 (via VegasInsider.com)
All-Time Series: Missouri leads 4-3-1
Last Meeting: Missouri Win, 34-12 (1970)
Gift Bag: $447 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip; watch; athletic performance shirt (courtesy sportsbusinessdaily.com)
This has to be one of the strangest matchups for the Big Ten in the 2014-15 bowl season. On the one hand you have a Minnesota team capable of competing with Ohio State and beating Nebraska, but also getting blown out by the high-flying TCU offense. On the other hand you’ve got a Missouri team that won the SEC East for a second year in a row, but also managed to lose to Indiana at home.
Squaring away what we know about these two teams with how this game is going to play out is not an easy thing. After taking a look back at some of what Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk put together in 2014, this game is going to come down to his play against one of the most underrated secondaries in the country.
Mauk is an all-or-nothing passer, throwing for an SEC-worst 11 interceptions to go with 23 touchdowns, a 52.9 percent completion rate and 2,551 yards. Clearly he’s got what it takes to make a defense worry, especially when you see he’s thrown for over 200 yards in each of the last four games played (including wins at both Texas A&M and Tennessee).
That means the Gophers’ No. 33-ranked pass defense needs to be on point, and that means a huge opportunity for one of the least talked about and most productive cornerbacks in the Big Ten, Briean Boddy-Calhoun , to shine. He finished this season fourth in the Big Ten with 12 passes defenses, had four interceptions and had 47 tackles as well.
If the Gophers can keep Mauk off his game with good secondary play and some decent pressure up front they’ll have a great chance to allow the offense to do its work. Should that happen, look for the Gophers to wear down a smaller and more nimble Tigers defensive line and for Cobb to have a big day.
Andy: Minnesota 24, Missouri 21
Dave: Minnesota 27, Missouri 21
Zach: Missouri 28, Minnesota 24