NCF Nation: 2012-independence-bowl-keys

Independence Bowl keys

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
10:30
AM ET
Here are three keys for North Carolina (7-5) heading into its matchup against Missouri:

1. Attitude. As simple as it sounds, if the Tar Heels aren’t emotionally and mentally into this game, they won’t be in it on the scoreboard, either. North Carolina has already announced Larry Fedora as its new head coach, and interim coach Everett Withers has already accepted a job as an assistant with Ohio State. Can Withers get his team to remain focused, even as he has one foot out the door?

2. Win the turnover margin. In North Carolina’s seven wins, the Tar Heels have a plus-7 turnover margin, compared with a minus-8 turnover deficit in the five losses. Overall, Carolina ranks 65th in the country with a minus-0.08 turnover margin. Missouri has lost 18 turnovers this season, compared with UNC’s 22.

3. Contain quarterback James Franklin. He's a first-year starter and a true sophomore, but he has caused headaches for opposing defenses despite an inconsistent start. Franklin enters the bowl game ranked 15th in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 298.25 yards per game. He’s thrown for 200 yards or more six times this season, and he’s also a big threat on the ground, as he has 839 yards and a team-best 13 rushing touchdowns. UNC has allowed just nine rushing touchdowns all season, but the Tar Heels’ pass defense is No. 90 in the country.

Independence Bowl: Three keys for Mizzou

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
10:30
AM ET
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.

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