by CFP Staff
December 26, 2011
After all the good boys and girls opened their presents, Missouri was an easy 41-24 winner over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl the day after Christmas.
Quarterback James Franklin accounted for 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 throwing) as the Tigers opened a 31-7 lead in the 2nd quarter and cruised to the victory.
Wet, cold weather in Shreveport, Louisiana contributed to keeping the crowd at a minimum for the 36th edition of the nation’s 11th-oldest bowl game. It was the first matchup between the ACC and Big 12 in I-Bowl history.
Missouri, which moves to the SEC next season, wrapped up its final campaign, as a Big 12 member with an 8-5 record.
North Carolina, which played the entire 2011 season under interim head coach Everett Withers, finished the season at 7-6, just one game below the 8-5 record that it had for three straight years under Butch Davis. Davis was fired on July 27 after months of NCAA investigations and just weeks before the 2011 season began.
Even though they faced such difficult circumstances, CollegeFootballPoll.com's Congrove Computer Rankings projected North Carolina to have an 8-4 regular season and the Tar Heels came up just one win short of matching that projection.
Conversely, Missouri finished well below its projected 10-2 campaign despite gaining three regular season wins over bowl teams. Additionally, three of Missouri's losses were by a total of 17 points, including an overtime defeat at Arizona State (6-6) and a three-point setback to Baylor (9-3) and Heisman Trophy-winning QB Robert Griffin III.
Missouri improved to 3-0 all-time vs. North Carolina in the first meeting between these schools since 1976. And the Tigers improved to 2-1 all-time in the I-Bowl, losing 27-14 to Arkansas in 2003 and beating South Carolina, 38-31, in 2005.
The Tigers were bowling for the sixth straight year and improved to 3-3 over that stretch. North Carolina was making its debut in Shreveport as it participated in the postseason for the fourth straight year, slipping to 1-3 in that span.
The victory means Missouri will carry the momentum of a season-ending 4-game winning streak into the SEC next year.
Each team is now 13-16 overall in bowl games.
77.8% of CollegeFootballPoll.com voters picked Missouri to win and the Congrove Computer Rankings projected Missouri to win by 13.25 points for the computer's 4th-widest projected margin of this year's 35 bowl games.