The Texas Longhorns and Missouri Tigers meet in a battle of former conference foes in the Texas Bowl. It isn’t exactly Texas vs. Texas A&M which was what I was hoping for, but this looks like a decent matchup. There would be no wondering if they were motivated if it was Texas and Texas A&M. Texas wrapped up the season with a loss over the Texas Tech Red Raiders. For the Longhorns, they have to try and forget about the regular season finale and be prepared for Missouri.
Are they going to be prepared, or did they check out after that loss? It’d be easy to just lay down and look towards next season after winning a game they should have won against Texas Tech. The Longhorns had a freshman quarterback to feast on in the first-half, who they handled, but the offense couldn’t generate enough of a gap. Texas Tech went to Nic Shimonek in the second-half, and he was able to slice them up fairly easily. The end result was a 27-23 win for Texas Tech.
The Horns have had a fair bit of issues at quarterback. Many believes this was going to be a big year for Shane Buechele. And at the very least, if Buechele struggled, then Sam Ehlinger was going to emerge as the future of Texas football. Neither took the opportunity and ran with it. Buechele threw 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with 1,350 yards.
The freshman, Ehlinger, was given more looks on the field. He threw 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions with 1,803 yards. Ehlinger is only a freshman, so he has to work hard in the offseason to jump up a level in 2018. Missouri came in projected to have one of the best offenses in college football. It took them a minute to find their footing, but when they did, they never let up. Head below for our free Texas vs. Missouri pick in the Texas Bowl.
Texas Longhorns vs. Missouri Tigers Betting Odds:
vs. Texas +2.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texas vs. Missouri Pick:
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was expected to have a monster year and he didn’t disappoint. He threw 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a massive jump from the 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions he threw in 2016. Expect more of the same from Lock when he enters the 2018 season as a senior. The Tigers’ offense as a whole went bonkers over the last six weeks of the season. It started with 68 points against Idaho and they never took their foot off the pedal. They ultimately averaged 51.3 points per game in those six games. Lock wasn’t the only one putting the numbers up.
The Tigers’ running game was elite, too. They’re far from one-dimensional. That’s the biggest misconception with their offense. Drew Lock may put up staggering numbers, but they can run the ball as well. They are 35th in the nation running the ball, and 14th in passing yardage per game. Mizzou make it difficult on defenses to pinpoint what’s coming. You can’t stack the box and shut down the running backs, or Lock will just sling it over the top. You can’t sit back and focus on Lock, or they’ll run it up the gut.
Conversely, the Longhorns’ offense could never find consistency. There were times you thought, okay, they’re ready to breakout and pile on the yardage. A week later, they can’t connect in the passing game, and the running game severely underperforms. They did finish 35th with 266.5 yards per game through the air, but it mostly came from a game here and there, it was never consistent. They managed just 25.5 points per game against Texas Tech and Missouri to finish the regular season.
There are several Texas players either injured, sitting the game out, or suspended heading into the Texas Bowl. Notably, they will be without their second option in the passing game, as Lil’Jordan Humphrey won’t be suiting up. Key contributors will also sit the game out while they prepare for the draft. Linebacker Malik Jefferson, safety DeShon Elliott, and offensive tackle Connor Williams will not participate. This game may be in Texas, but I do not believe the Longhorns care about this all. In fact, reaching the Texas Bowl is a major disappoint for them. They shut their season down after losing to the Red Raiders. It will take a couple of quarters before Texas gets tired of chasing down Lock and company. I like Missouri in this spot.
PICK: MISSOURI -2.5 (-110)