For the 20th straight year, the Independence Bowl is the inaugural game in ESPN's Bowl Week coverage.
Last year Georgia Tech took down Air Force in ACC vs. Mountain West action.
This time around, it will be the ACC taking on tougher competition in the Big 12.
The North Carolina Tar Heels and Missouri Tigers each had up-and-down seasons, before ultimately ending the year each with 7-5 records.
Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
When: 4:00 pm ET, Monday, December 26th
Who is the safer bet?
Betting Line: Missouri Tigers (-5.5)
What They're Saying
Missouri looks to make their exit from the Big 12 with a bang, proving that they will be competitive in the SEC for years to come.
North Carolina has slowly recovered from the academic scandal from a year ago. Although it has been a slow recovery process, the team seems to be back on track.
The Tigers are the favorites heading into the matchup, but don't count out this Tar Heels team from pulling off the upset.
Missouri Player to Watch
Ever since losing star running back Henry Josey to a season-ending injury, the Tigers offense has revolved around quarterback James Franklin.
Franklin is a dual-threat, with the ability to take on teams with his arm as well as his feet.
He has thrown for 2,733 yards and 20 touchdowns this year. He has also run for 839 yards and 12 more scores.
With Josey out, the weight will have to be carried by Franklin if Missouri is going to walk away with the win.
North Carolina Player to Watch
Giovani Bernard is a name that not too many people across the nation know. After this game, he will gain some attention.
The freshman sensation has had a fantastic year at running back.
His 1,222 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns have been the majority of the offense for the Tar Heels all season.
Keys to a Missouri Win
This game is going to be all about turnovers for both teams. Both quarterbacks have had their ups and downs this year. Both have struggled to protect the ball in crucial situations.
Missouri will rely much more on James Franklin than the Tar Heels will rely on Bryn Renner.
The pressure will be on Franklin to put up most of the points for the Tigers. In the process he needs to protect the ball.
If Missouri can keep from turning the ball over, they should be able to control this game.
Keys to a North Carolina Win
North Carolina is going to be able to lean on Giovani Bernard on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, they need to contain Franklin and keep him in the pocket.
Who wins the game?
If Franklin is forced to sit in the pocket and make plays solely with his arm, he is going to make mistakes.
Those mistakes will be the key in the game.
Prediction: 28-24, North Carolina Tar Heels
This underdog pick is the way to go here.
If Henry Josey were to take the field, this would be a different story. However, without their star running back, Missouri is going to struggle.
North Carolina is going to be able to key in on Franklin and force him into mistakes.
By creating turnovers and controlling the clock with Bernard, the Tar Heels will walk away with the upset win.