The Missouri Tigers (7-5) and the Texas Longhorns (6-6) will clash Wednesday in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. It’ll be their first matchup since 2011, and will begin at 9:00 EST from NRG Stadium in Houston. The game can be seen on ESPN.
The Tigers were on fire late in the season after a poor 1-5 start. The offense became one of the most potent forces in the nation, knocking off the struggling likes of Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas, to name a few.
QB Drew Lock led the way with an FBS-leading 43 touchdown passes, and had a passer rating of nearly 170. Having targets like 1,000-yard receiver J’Mon Moore and Emanuel Hall (24.8 YPR) has helped out a lot. As has finding balance in the ground game, with Ish Witter (5.8 YPC), Larry Roundtree III (5.6), and Damarea Crockett (6.0) all changing the pace and racking up yards.
It led to them having the ninth-best scoring offense in the country.
For the Longhorns, they’ve been mostly held in-check scoring-wise in big games. They lost most of their major matchups this year, but it shouldn’t take away from the fact they nearly defeated USC, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, losing to these teams by a combined 11 points.
In their first year under coach Tom Herman, the Longhorns made small steps forward, especially considering they lost at home by 10 to Maryland to open the year. They particularly improved their defensive capabilities, becoming a top-30 scoring defense in a conference known to put up plenty of points.
Texas will come in as slight underdogs in this game, despite the Texas setting. They sit now as 2-point underdogs, with the over/under for this game set at 60.5 points.
Missouri has scored 308 points in its last six games. 308. That’s 51.3 PPG for those keeping score. Having such a stretch would already give them the advantage in this game against an oft-challenged Texas offense.
But the Longhorns are becoming so depleted on the tail-end of this season, they’ll be lucky to keep up for the whole contest.
Defensive stud Malik Jefferson may not play, and won’t be anywhere near 100% if he does. They’ve lost their second-leading receiver, Lil’Jordan Humphrey to suspension. Offensive leader and OL Connor Williams is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft. The same goes for DB DeShon Eilliott, who is the second-leading tackler on the team and has six interceptions, the most in the Big 12. Fellow starting safety and third-leading tackler Brandon Jones looks to be out as well.
With all those key losses, especially those in the secondary, Lock will have the chance for another massive game. He’s had a gunslinger mentality all season, having games where his completion percentages were poor, but his touchdown numbers and downfield stats were eye-popping.
Witter’s incredible emergence will keep Texas off-balance. He has 488 rushing yards in the last three games alone, with 6.2 YPC. That steadiness in all facets of the offense will continue to generate points, even if Texas has made strides on defense this year. The Longhorns are too banged up to slow the Tigers down.
And their offense has been nothing special, even against as poor a defense as Texas Tech (101st in PPG defense) in the regular season finale. Don’t expect Shane Buechele starting at QB to be all that much of a boost for them.
In the end, this may be a wider margin then most expect, and will be an easy win if Mizzou takes advantage of the Longhorns losses on defense. A team scoring this much should do just that.