WHO: Missouri (7-5) vs. Texas (6-6)
WHAT: The 12th Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: NRG Stadium in Houston
THE SKINNY: Let’s start by recounting who isn’t here. Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has accepted the head coaching job at Central Florida. Texas standouts DeShon Elliott, Connor Williams and Holton Hill will not play.
As for who will play, this one feels like one of the most difficult bowl games to peg. Mizzou did close the regular season on a 6-game winning streak while ripping off 51.3 points a game. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that those wins came against Idaho, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. Not exactly a murder’s row.
Texas, meanwhile, was as up and down as any team in the country. The Longhorns were good enough to play toe-to-toe with USC, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but also lost to Texas Tech to close the season. Texas has one of the more underrated defenses in the country, when everyone’s healthy and playing, but the offense has struggled mightily to move the ball without Williams — the ‘Horns are 95th nationally in rushing and 109th in yards per carry — and, until proven otherwise, freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger can’t be trusted not to turn the ball over in the worst possible moment.
Given that, it seems prudent to ride with Drew Lock and the Mizzou offense.
THE PICK: Missouri 34, Texas 20