Independence Bowl Odds: NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (7-5) vs. MISSOURI TIGERS (7-5)

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In Monday’s Independence Bowl, Missouri looks for a fourth straight victory facing slumping North Carolina, which has lost four of six games. Line & Total: Missouri -5 & 53.5

Opening Line & Total: Tigers -4.5 & 52.5

Although the Tigers are playing better football than the Heels right now, these two teams have remarkably similar numbers on the year. They are both 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS, and have both given up 23.5 PPG. UNC has allowed 30.2 PPG in non-home games, and Missouri has allowed 30.3 PPG in non-home games. The difference comes on the offensive end, as the Tigers rank 12th in the nation in yardage (472 YPG) and Carolina is 50th (397 YPG). In terms of rushing the football, Mizzou ranks 11th in FBS (236 YPG) and the Heels place 70th (147 YPG). The Tigers have also played a tougher schedule in the Big 12 and have a more dynamic quarterback in James Franklin.


Although UNC hired former Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora on Dec. 9, this team will once again be led by Everett Withers, who was named interim coach after Butch Davis was fired a few weeks before this season began. Withers led the program to its fourth straight bowl appearance, thanks in big part to star WR Dwight Jones. He set school records with 79 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 TD this year. Jones was originally ruled ineligible for this game after his photo was used on a flyer promoting a party, but he has since been reinstated by the NCAA. Jones had five catches for 51 yards in the Tar Heels’ 30-27 win in double overtime over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl last year. His quarterback, Bryn Renner (69% completions, 23 TD and 12 INT), should be able to throw on Missouri’s weak pass defense (247 YPG, 91st in FBS) that has allowed 300+ yards in half of its games. Carolina also relies heavily on RB Giovani Bernard whose 1,222 rushing yards and 13 TD are the most ever for a UNC freshman.


The Tigers’ best player, Big 12 leading rusher Henry Josey, is out for the season, and UNC has a stellar run defense (14th in FBS, 106 YPG), which has allowed only 93 rush YPG in the past six contests. But Missouri QB James Franklin has been a huge ground gainer with 839 yards and 13 TD. He has also thrown for 2,733 yards (228 YPG) and 20 TD with just 10 INT. T.J. Moe has been his top receiver with 649 yards, but four others have 300+ yards and 3+ TD this year. Both Moe (15 rec, 152 yds) and TE Michael Egnew (7 rec, 64 yds, 1 TD) had huge games in last year’s 27-24 Insight Bowl loss to Iowa.

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