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Monday, December 26, 2011
Independence Bowl: Three keys for Mizzou

By David Ubben

Time to look at three keys for Mizzou in its matchup with North Carolina in the V100 AdvoCare Independence Bowl.

1. Maintain offensive balance. Missouri's been remarkably balanced all season long. The Tigers have 2,835 yards rushing and 2,834 yards passing. That's how it has to be for them. James Franklin isn't a passer precise enough to park in the pocket and fire 50 passes a game. He has to keep the defense off balance and aware of his running ability. His importance skyrocketed after Henry Josey's injury, but he's capable of getting it done.

2. Limit big plays. The Tar Heels are right in the middle of the pack in the ACC when it comes to big plays, but outside of Texas, Missouri has been the Big 12's best team at limiting plays from scrimmage longer than 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. That should continue, and if it does, Missouri should be fine. Neither team has a huge advantage in this one, but the Tigers should win if they play like their usual selves. Fact is, 7-5 and 5-4 in the Big 12 is a lot more impressive than North Carolina's marks of 7-5 and 3-5 in the ACC.

3. Try to shake Bryn Renner. Not literally, though that would be a good sign for Missouri's defensive line. Renner's thrown multiple interceptions in four games this season, and gone without a interception in six games. It's pretty clear which side of Renner Missouri would like to see. Missouri's defensive line hasn't quite lived up to lofty expectations, but this is an opportunity for top pass-rushers Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison to have a huge impact on the game.