Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Texas (6-6) vs. Missouri (7-5)
Dec. 27, 9 p.m. ET, Houston (ESPN)
Missouri -3, O/U: 61
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Texas: Texas’ first season under Tom Herman was a bumpy ride. The Longhorns started off the season with a loss to Maryland and nearly upset USC, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State along the way. But UT still managed to accumulate some wins as the year progressed, and a road victory over West Virginia in November ensured the team would be back in a bowl after a two-year absence.
Missouri: Things were ugly early in the year for Missouri after a miserable 1-5 start. However, the Tigers turned their fortunes around in a big way and enter the Texas Bowl on a six-game winning streak. During that streak, the Tigers have averaged more than 51 points per game. Two SEC coaches, Butch Jones and Bret Bielema, were fired after their teams lost to Missouri and Florida’s Jim McElwain parted ways with the school the week before the Gators played the Tigers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas: This one is iffy. Jefferson has been practicing in the hopes of playing on Wednesday, but a foot injury has meant he’s “doubtful” in the words of the Texas coaching staff.
Jefferson hadn’t always quite lived up to his five-star recruiting hype during his career — until this season. Jefferson, who many expect will declare for the NFL draft, was the Big 12’s co-defensive player of the year. He enters the bowl game with 110 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks. Over the team’s final five games, Jefferson had 42 tackles to help the Longhorns reach a bowl game.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: Drew Lock set the SEC record for passing touchdowns in a season this year. The junior enters the Texas Bowl with 3,695 yards and 43 touchdowns and has thrown for at least three touchdowns in the last eight games. He also has six games this season with at least four touchdowns and five 300-yard games. However, Missouri will be without offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who accepted the head coaching job at UCF.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: This could be the last time you see Lock in a college uniform. His play this year has cemented his status as an NFL prospect and he could decide to leave school early for the 2018 draft. He’ll go up against a Texas secondary that will be without stud safety DeShon Elliott, who, along with tackle Connor Williams, won’t play as he prepares for the NFL. Even without those guys (and a few others who are suspended, along with some other injured Longhorns), expect Texas to play hard in its return to bowl season.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE: Neither team has played in a bowl game since 2014. For Texas, it can avoid a fourth straight losing season and pick up its first bowl win since 2012. That season, Mack Brown’s second to last in Austin, the Longhorns beat Oregon State 31-27 in the Alamo Bowl. Missouri hasn’t played in a bowl since the second of its back-to-back SEC East titles in 2014. Two losing seasons followed and now the Tigers can pick up their first bowl win under Barry Odom against a former Big 12 foe. With the way the season began, finishing the year with eight wins and seven in a row would provide a nice bit of momentum going into 2018.
Nick: Missouri 37, Texas 20
Sam: Missouri 38, Texas 31
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