Missouri has three wins this year over bowl teams this year and lost three games by a total of 17 points, including an overtime loss on the road to Arizona State (6-6) and a three-point loss to Baylor (9-3) and Heisman Trophy-winning QB Robert Griffin III.
The game will mark a school record seventh consecutive bowl game for Missouri and 29th overall bowl appearance (12-16).
"We're very pleased to accept an invitation to play in the 2011 Independence Bowl," said MU Head Coach Gary Pinkel. "We obviously have a history with this game, and we know first-hand how great of an experience they provide," he said.
North Carolina (7-5, 3-5 ACC) beat Duke in its regular-season finale at home to clinch a winning season. The Tar Heels opened the season with five wins in six games under interim head coach Everett Withers. North Carolina is also making its 29th appearance (13-15) in a bowl game.
Withers will be leaving North Carolina after the game to join recently-hired Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State. Larry Fedora has been hired to take the reins for the Tar Heels. Butch Davis was fired on July 27 after months of NCAA investigations.
"I’m excited for our players, especially this group of seniors, to advance to a bowl game for the fourth straight season," said Withers. "Despite some challenging circumstances, this team continued to work hard and prepare each week for the next game. We now have a chance to win eight games for the fourth-straight year and win our second-consecutive bowl game."
A victory would give North Carolina the oddity of finishing 8-5 for a fourth consecutive year.
Even though they faced such difficult circumstances, the Congrove Computer Rankings projected North Carolina to have an 8-4 season. Conversely, Missouri finished well below its projected 10-2 campaign. Still, the computer tabs Missouri as a 13.25-point favorite for the computer's 4th-widest projected margin of this year's 35 bowl games.