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North Carolina Missouri Free Pick – Independence Bowl Spread

The 2011 college football bowl season continues with post-Christmas action featuring the North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5) of the ACC traveling to Shreveport, LA to take on the Missouri Tigers (7-5) of the Big 12 (soon to be SEC) this Monday afternoon (5:00pm ET) in the Independence Bowl. North Carolina snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over Duke in their season finale by a score of 37-21 to cover the 14 point line. Missouri won their final three games of the regular season, including a 24-10 win at Kansas on November 26 in which they did not cover the massive 26 point line against the woeful Jayhawks. The Tar Heels and tigers have identical 6-6 records against the spread this season.

The Tar Heels average 28.3 points per game on offense to rank 57th in the nation in scoring and 50th in total offense with an average of 396.6 yards per game with sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner (2,769 yards, 23 TDs, 12 INTs) and freshman tailback Giovani Bernard (1,222 rushing yards, 13 TDs) the main cogs. The UNC defense has allowed an average of 23.5 PPG to rank 46th among FBS teams, and ranks 40th in total defense with an average of 352.9 YPG surrendered. Missouri features a dynamic offense with sophomore QB James Franklin (2,740 yards passing, 20 TDs, 10 INTs) at the controls, ranking 33rd in scoring offense with 32.2 PPG and 12th nationally in total offense with an average of 473.2 YPG. The Tigers’ defense ranks 45th in scoring with 23.5 PPG allowed and 60th in total defense with 382.2 YPG allowed.

North Carolina vs. Missouri Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

North Carolina Tar Heels +5
@Missouri Tigers -5

Game Total:

Over 52.5 (-110)
Under 52.5 (-110)

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North Carolina vs. Missouri Pick:

North Carolina is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games and 19-9 ATS in their last 28 games as an underdog. Missouri is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 December games. The under is 5-1 in UNC’s last 6 non-conference games and 9-4 in their last 13 games against a team with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Missouri’s last 5 games as a favorite and 9-3 in their last 12 non-conference games. The two teams have had no recent meetings.

Missouri has an anemic pass defense that has allowed 247.2 YPG (91st in the nation) and UNC should be able to have success moving the ball through the air against the Tigers. UNC has a similarly poor pass defense, ranking 90th among FBS teams with 246.8 YPG allowed through the air. Fans of the passing game will find this to be a very entertaining game, and QBs Renner and Franklin should both have big days against the suspect secondary’s they will be facing. UNC has a tough run defense (106.2 YPG, 14th nationally) that will be tested by a strong Missouri running attack (236.5 YPG, 11th in the nation), but Missouri will likely focus on the weak link in the UNC defense and throw the ball more than normal in this game. The emphasis on the passing game will result in a game that will feature much more scoring than either team is accustomed to. The trends seem to point mostly in the direction of a low-scoring game, but bowl games in general tend to be more high-scoring affairs and the matchups on both sides point to a shoot-out. Take the over here.

PICK = Over 52.5