John Harris on the Texas v. Missouri Matchup
The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl is set and it renews two former acquaintances – the Texas Longhorns and the Missouri Tigers. These two have met 23 times, with the majority of those coming from years 1996 to 2011 when they were both members of the Big 12. In 2012, though, Missouri moved to the SEC and these two haven’t faced each other since.
Much was expected of the Longhorns in 2017 as head coach Tom Herman took over the University of Texas program. Yet, the year was filled with ups and downs as Herman tried to put his stamp on the program. The Longhorns were a first down away from finishing 7-5, on track for a potential eighth win in the bowl game. However, an interception opened the door for Texas Tech to sneak in and escape out of Austin with the Longhorns’ possible seventh win. As such, the Longhorns come into this one looking to avoid seven losses in a season for the fourth consecutive season. It’s also a return for Herman back to Houston and to NRG Stadium where he led the Houston Cougars to an upset of the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff.
For Missouri, a bowl game was a distant blip on the radar screen as late as middle of October. Then, the Tigers got hot. After a 53-28 loss to the playoff bound Georgia Bulldogs, Barry Odom’s Tigers were 1-5. To get to six wins, the Tigers had to beat Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. They did, in addition to Idaho and U Conn. They ran the table, averaging nearly 50 points a game in the process. Quarterback Drew Lock lit up the airways, completing 58.2% of his passes for 3,695 yards and 43 touchdowns. Yes, FORTY THREE touchdowns…in a season.
The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl will be one of the most intriguing bowl games, given the winding paths that these two teams followed to get to Houston on December 27, 2017.