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Monday, December 8, 2008
Valero Alamo Bowl: Missouri (9-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)


Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN

Missouri take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: It will be hard for the Tigers to get much momentum for this game after their humiliating loss to Oklahoma last night in the Big 12 title game. Missouri came into the season with legitimate hopes as a national title contender. Those dreams were snuffed out by a leaky pass defense that was exposed again last night against the Sooners.

Gary Pinkel will have a big job to get his team ready to play in San Antonio against steady but unspectacular Northwestern, which started the season 5-0 and won their last two games but lost three of five in the middle of the season.

Missouri should have the edge offensively with weapons like Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman and the others that helped them rank fourth nationally in pass offense and sixth in scoring and total offense.

A big key will be to protect Daniel from massive Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootten, who ranked among the top 30 nationally in both sacks and tackles for losses. And veteran Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher has to be eager about facing a struggling Missouri defense that allowed 102 points in its last two games and ranked 117th nationally in pass defense.

Expect a shootout at the Alamodome.


Northwestern take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Northwestern got a raw deal or a great opportunity, depending on how you look at it.

Not only were the Wildcats snubbed by the Outback Bowl, but they face a very tough matchup in Missouri, a preseason national title contender that boasts one of the game's top passing combinations in quarterback Chase Daniel and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Then again, a Valero Alamo Bowl victory would give Northwestern just the second 10-win season in school history and some national recognition.

A defense that improved 24 spots in the national rankings under first-year coordinator Mike Hankwitz faces arguably its toughest test of the season in Missouri, which is sixth in both scoring (43.2) and total offense (497.5 ypg). Defensive end Corey Wootton and a unit that led the Big Ten in sacks (33) must apply pressure on Daniel, who threw multiple touchdown passes in all but one game.

Wildcats running back Tyrell Sutton hopes to return from a dislocated wrist, but the spotlight will be on his Jekyll-and-Hyde backfield mate, quarterback C.J. Bacher. Missouri can't defend the pass (117th nationally), and for Northwestern to hang around, Bacher must attack down the field.