Independence Bowl Picks: North Carolina vs. Missouri 12/26/11

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Two 7-5 teams meet in what should be a great battle on the bowl game betting odds, as the North Carolina Tar Heels try to make short work of the Missouri Tigers in the Independence Bowl.

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Independence Bowl Matchup: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Missouri Tigers
Independence Bowl Date/Time: Monday, December 26th, 5:00 ET
Independence Bowl Location: Independence Stadium, Bossier-Shreveport, LA
Independence Bowl Odds: Missouri -5
Independence Bowl Total: 52.5
Independence Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN2, ESPN3.com

The question of which team is going to win this bowl game very well could come down to which team wants to be here more. Both played very similar schedules this year, and both had their ups and downs against all sorts of competition. There were plenty of games that could have gone either way and plenty that were never in doubt in both directions. Now, both UNC and Mizzou face challenges that they haven’t seen all season long in an odd location of Shreveport that can’t possibly be one of the more desirable bowl locations, particularly early in the afternoon the day after Christmas.

For North Carolina, the men of note are RB Giovani Bernard and QB Bryn Renner. These two stars on offense weren’t exactly stalwarts at the start of the year, but Bernard rushed for over 1,200 yards, while Renner did a nice job passing, completing 68.8 percent of his passes with 23 TDs. The offense was all over the place this year for the Tar Heels, getting shut out by the NC State Wolfpack, but scoring 37+ in three of its last five games.

The more consistent team down the stretch was clearly Missouri. After going through a brutal start to the season, the Tigers settled down and won four of their last five games, including three in a row to close out the campaign. QB James Franklin has clearly gotten more comfortable in this offense. He is going to end the year with right around 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing, though he’ll probably come up just short of both marks. Still, in a very complex offense run by Head Coach Gary Pinkel, being able to pick up this offense and run it in one year against some of the best offenses in the country in the Big XII was truly an accomplishment.

One of the issues that North Carolina has in this game is the fact that its kicker, K Casey Barth, the brother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers K Connor Barth has a groin injury that has kept him out for months. The team’s kicking game just hasn’t been the same since that point. We tend to think that that is going to cost UNC just enough points to really make it hurt when push comes to shove, and we’ll give the slight edge to the hot Tigers, though we wouldn’t be surprised if the Tar Heels really did put up a tremendous fight.

Free Independence Bowl Pick: Missouri -5

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Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Cappersinfo.com Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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