Missouri coordinators Josh Henson and Dave Steckel met with the media, 48 hours before the kickoff of the Citrus Bowl at Buffalo Wild Wings, the title sponsor here in Orlando, along with quarterback Shane Ray and defensive end Shane Ray. Both men talked about the biggest concerns. For the Tigers offense, they’ll be without wide receiver Jimmie Hunt, second on the team behind Bud Sasser. Henson is turning that job over to a true freshman and senior walk-on
Defensively for Missouri Coach Stec said if they can slow down the run, get Minnesota into passing situations, they’ll have a good chance of winning, but the biggest receiving threat for the Gophers is their tight end Maxx Williams, an All-American. He’s 30% of their passing offense and has scored two-thirds of their passing touchdowns.
Watch Mizzou’s press conference (7:30)
The Gophers are 8-4 this year after finishing last season with an 8-5 record. Minnesota has now posted back-to-back eight win seasons for the first time since in 11 seasons. Minnesota ended the season ranked No. 25 in the College Football Playoff Rankings finishing fourth out of Big Ten teams. The Gophers were behind (No. 4 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan State and No. 18 Wisconsin). Minnesota dropped three of its final five games but still has a chance to reach nine victories for the second time in 110 years. The program last accomplished that in 2003.
Minnesota will be shorthanded at wide receiver just like Missouri. Donovahn Jones was kicked off the team Sunday for violating a team rule. Jones was third on the team with 253 receiving yards despite making only 11 catches, two of which were touchdowns. The Tigers will be without Jimmie Hunt. He was second on the team with 40 receptions, 698 yards and seven touchdowns.
Mizzou is making it to a New Year’s Day bowl game for the second-straight season, after their 10-3 campaign, including a 7-1 SEC record.
A win by the Tigers would break the school record for most wins in a two-year period. After its 12-win season a year ago, combined with the 10 wins entering the Citrus Bowl, the current Tigers are tied with the 2007-2008 teams which also won 12 and 10 games, respectively. The Tigers (10-3) now have a chance to win at least 11 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time. Missouri has five seasons with 10 or more wins since coach Gary Pinkel’s arrival in 2001 after previously producing one such campaign, in 1960.