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No. 21 Missouri (9-4) vs. No. 23 Northwestern (9-3)
Monday, Dec. 29, 2008, 8:00 PM ET
Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Spread: Missouri -12
How they got here...
The Missouri Tigers started the season off with a Sports Illustrated cover and a pre-season No. 6 ranking.
With proficient play early by quarterback and Heisman hopeful Chase Daniel, the Tigers were ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP Poll before losing to fellow Big 12 member Oklahoma State.
With another loss a week later to the Texas Longhorns, Missouri was in desperate need of a win if they were to make it to the Big 12 Championship Game.
They did just that, winning their next four outings. But in the season finale, they lost yet another heartbreaking game to Kansas.
Missouri won the Big 12 North title and faced off against Big 12 South champion Oklahoma. The Sooners' offense proved to be too much for the Tigers, and Missouri lost their fourth game of the season and would settle for a trip to the Alamodome in the post-season.
The Northwestern Wildcats were one of the biggest surprises in all of college football. After finishing a dismal 6-6 a season ago, the 'Cats fought their way to a very impressive 9-3 record.
Northwestern began their season a perfect 5-0 before falling to a ranked Michigan State team. The Wildcats' other two losses came from Indiana and Ohio State.
Most impressive in the win department was the one they pulled off in Minnesota. The Wildcats came out of the No. 17-ranked Golden Gophers home with a 24-17 victory.
In another road win, Northwestern handed Michigan their eighth loss of the season, beating them for the first time since 2000.
Missouri's story is their offense. The Tigers are ranked 6th in Total Yards (offensive), 4th in Passing Yards, and 6th in Points Scored.
Chase Daniel has 4,135 yards passing, completing nearly 75 percent of his attempts. On the ground, Derrick Washington is eight yards short of 1,000 and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Thankfully, Northwestern's offense will have star running back Tyrell Sutton back from injury. In eight games, Sutton racked up 776 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry.
On the defensive side, the Wildcats only gave up 19 points per game.
Missouri wins if...
...Chase Daniel doesn't turn over the ball. Daniels attempted fewer passes this year, yet he managed to throw four more interceptions. The Tiger losses this year were due mainly to costly turnovers. Northwestern is hungry and will take every inch given to them.
Northwestern wins if...
...they capitalize off of Missouri's mistakes. Northwestern is completely outmatched on paper, but paper doesn't factor in heart. Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl. This group of men play hard and are hungry to be the team that makes history at their beloved University.
B/R Expert Picks:
Trey Bradley Missouri
Lisa Horne Missouri
Brian Scott Missouri
David Wunderlich Missouri
Justin Goar Missouri
Michael Cline Northwestern