The Missouri Tigers will be playing their final game as members of the Big 12 conference tonight when they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Independence Bowl. It will be their final chance to showcase their abilities for their new SEC brethren, and it will not be the performance that they are looking for.
It's not entirely Missouri's fault, because star running back Henry Josey went down with a knee injury on November 12 against Texas. He was by far the best player on the offense, and his presence in the lineup made a world of difference.
The Tigers were able to coast by with easy games against Texas Tech and Kansas to close out the season, but North Carolina has the playmakers on both sides of the ball to turn this game into a blowout.
As Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote, this game is going to be a good litmus test for the Tigers and what they can expect heading into the SEC next season.
North Carolina has speed and skill on both sides of the ball. They have big wide receivers on offense and an imposing front on defense.
The Tar Heels have the nation’s 14th-ranked rushing defense under interim coach Everett Withers, who moves on to join Urban Meyer's Ohio State staff after this game. They have the speed, agility and toughness to tackle in space.
So the Tigers get a worthy test in their final game before stepping up to America’s best college football conference.
The problem with the Tigers, at least as presently constructed, is that they are built to play a Big 12 style. That will not work against an athletic team like North Carolina, nor will it work well when they move to the SEC.
The end of the Tigers' run in the Big 12 will not be the magical send-off that they are looking for. Instead, they will just go out with a whimper and be treated like the afterthought that they have been in the conference for years.