Monday, December 29, 2008

Alamo Bowl: Missouri (9-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)

The 2008 Alamo Bowl has an interesting match up between the Big 12 North Division champ, the Missouri Tigers (9-4, 1st in Big 12 North) vs. the Northwestern Wildcats (9-3, tied for fourth in Big Ten). Which team shows up for either program, in this classic Big Ten vs. Big 12 match up?

The Missouri Tigers have won back to back Big 12 North Division titles, their first, only to be stalled in the Big 12 Championship game each year. Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game, since the 1949 Rose Bowl. Last year, Northwestern stayed home, though they were bowl eligible at 6-6, while Missouri beat Arkansas soundly 38-7 in the Cotton Bowl.

Each team will be coming off a break, so what impact will that have in the bowl game, especially to each teams passing game? One would think experience clearly favors Missouri, since the Wildcats haven't traveled to a bowl game, since the 2005 Sun Bowl, which ended in a 38-50 loss to UCLA. The Wildcats are 1-5 in bowl games. This is Tiger's fourth straight bowl game.

Northwestern comes into the game with a two game winning streak at Michigan and over in-state rival Illinois, which cost the Fighting Illini a bowl birth. Missouri has lost two straight game to conference rival Kansas and to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. Missouri's four losses have come to four bowl teams: Oklahoma State, at Texas, KU and OU, the final two games both at Arrowhead Stadium. Northwestern lost at Indiana 19-21, in additon to the game vs. MSU and at Ohio State.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is 3-2 in bowl game, while Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is in his first bowl game.

Conventional wisdom clearly points to Missouri beating Northwestern, but when you look at the 37-40 loss to Kansas, something tells me that Northwestern does have a speck of hope in this one. Turnovers will be big, as they are in any bowl game. Special teams appear to favor Missouri, as do many other aspects of this game. The intangibles favor Northwestern in this one. It clearly is an opportunity for Northwestern to complete one of their better seasons ever. David meet Goliath in the 2008 Alamo Bowl?

Cidsports' prediction

Missouri 34
Northwestern 35


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