For the second season in a row, Missouri ended its season with a win in a bowl game while representing the SEC. No. 16 Missouri pulled away from No. 25 Minnesota in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl Thursday afternoon in Orlando, Florida, winning 33-17 to even the SEC’s record against the Big Ten this bowl season.
Russell Hansbrough ripped off a 78-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to boost a two-point advantage over the Gophers to a 26-17 lead, and Maty Mauk completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bud Sasser later in the fourth quarter for what was effectively a knockout blow for the Tigers. Missouri shrugged aside a sluggish start to the game with a pair of turnovers by way of intercepted passes on the first two possessions of the afternoon, and came back to play a physical game. Mauk played a role in that as well with 38 hard-earned rushing yards and a touchdown that saw Mauk being the last man standing despite being tackled by one Minnesota player and another coming in for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Mauk was charged with emotion as his touchdown run gave Missouri a 19-14 lead following a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Minnesota may not have had many highlights, but tight end Maxx Williams may have turned in one of the best plays of the bowl season. Williams caught a pass and started to work his way down the left sideline. With a Missouri defended looking to force him out of bounds from the front, Williams took to the air to hurdle the defender. He then raced down field and left the Missouri defenders in the dust en route to an amazing 54-yards touchdown pass from Mitch Leidner.
The Tigers owned the advantage on the ground too. Marcus Murphy led all players with 157 rushing yards and Hansbrough added another 114 yards on the ground. Minnesota’s David Cobb ended his day with 81 rushing yards.
The win by Missouri was the fifth by the SEC this bowl season, improving the SEC’s bowl record to 5-4. That includes winning records against the ACC and Big 12 and a .500 mark against the Big Ten (with two more match-ups against the Big Ten to be played). The SEC East is now 3-0 in bowl action as well.
The Big Ten dropped to 3-4 as a result of this game, and with Michigan State trailing Baylor it looks as though the Big Ten is in at risk of a losing record this bowl season (Well, Michigan State just won, so forget about that thought for now). Ohio State and Iowa are the only two bowl teams remaining for the conference.