WHO: No. 16 Missouri (10-3) vs. No. 25 Minnesota (8-4)
WHAT: The 69th Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
WHERE: Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 1:00 p.m. ET January 1, 2015 on ABC
THE SKINNY: Minnesota fans have waited a long time to see their Gophers back in a New Years Day bowl game. The last time Minnesota played on New Years Day was in the 1962 Rose Bowl. Will the wait be worth it? Jerry Kill was named the Big Ten coach of the year, and he has running back David Cobb to thank for much of that. In a year that put Big Ten running backs under the spotlight, Cobb’s 1,548 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns may have been easy to overlook. Where Minnesota ruly excelled was inside the red zone. No Big Ten scored a higher percentage of touchdowns inside the 20-yard line than the Gophers (73.3 percent; 33 touchdowns on 45 red zone opportunities).
Minnesota may have had a darling of a season in Big Ten play, but the Gophers proved to be a team that was unable to get over the hump against the top teams on their schedule. Minnesota suffered losses against TCU, Ohio State and Wisconsin (and Illinois!). They will face a Missouri team that once again caught some in the SEC by surprise with a second straight SEC East division championship.Like Minnesota, Missouri was another team that struggled to beat the top competition on tis schedule (Georgia, Alabama… and Indiana?), but if the Tigers rely on their defense and get a solid outing out of quarterback
Like Minnesota, Missouri was another team that struggled to beat the top competition on tis schedule (Georgia, Alabama… and Indiana?), but if the Tigers rely on their defense and get a solid outing out of quarterback Maty Mauk, then the Tigers may be able to ring in the new year with a bowl victory. Head coach Gary Pinkel, himself a coach of the year his conference this season, is looking for his third straight bowl victory (Missouri missed the postseason in 2012 but has been victorious in two straight bowl trips).
THE PREDICTION: Missouri 26, Minnesota 20