Bowl Season

MISSOURI (10-2) VS IOWA (7-5)


Big Ten vs. Big 12 Tempe, Ariz.
Sun Devil Stadium
Dec. 28
10 p.m.

 The pick: I like Missouri to win this game. Look for Blaine Gabbert to have a big game.

This pick has been made by and therefore will be correct.
 But if you disagree or agree with me send and email to saying who you think will win and why and I'll post it.... 

Ross Taylor, of , was nice enough to answer some questions about Missouri.

BS: It was a very good 10-2 season for the Tigers this year. Take away a loss to Texas Tech and Missouri wins the Big 12 North. How would you rate this team compared to the expectations. 

Ross Taylor: 10-2 exceeded almost everyone's preseason expectations, but as they have almost annually for the last five years, Missouri fans found themselves elev
ating their expectations as the season progressed. It's almost odd to think that Missouri was a road meltdown in Lubbock away from an 11-1 season. In many senses, it's hard to believe they were a win away from tying the 2007 team's regular season record. This 2010 team doesn't have anywhere near the star power of that squad, but they've found ways to win.

BS: Blaine Gabbert had another good year and T.J. Moe was an impact receiver. Comment on the offense and including the above players and the running game.

Ross Taylor: That's a hard question to boil down into a single answer. Blaine Gabbert remains one of top quarterbacks in the conference and the country as far as pure talent is concerned, though it can be week-to-week as far as his consistency is concerned. Like you mentioned, though, T.J. Moe and first-team All-American tight end Michael Egnew have been crucial in Gabbert's success (and, ergo, Missouri's success). Both have caught nearly everything thrown in their vicinity and both have taken a number of vicious hits in a process. Moe was becoming somewhat of a cult hero around Mizzou after his first game, and this was prior to "The Moe Miracle" against San Diego State and before his comments about how much he hates Kansas and Nebraska. To say he's beloved would be an understatement. The running game has been one of the odder developments of the season, as it was expected to suffer as the result of the Derrick Washington legal affair in the preseason. Instead, Mizzou has run a tailback committee that is legitimately four-deep. The running attack has been hit or miss at times, but when it hits, the extra dimension makes the Mizzou offense extremely hard to defend.

BS: The defense was very good this year also, allowing no more than 28 points in every game but one. What was the difference for the defense compared to last year, where the Tigers had 8 games giving up more than 28 points? Also, talk about impact players on this side of the ball.

Ross Taylor: In summer practices, Gary Pinkel and his staff frequently wear shirts with the mantra "It's all about the ball" printed on them. The shirts are meant to preach the importance of ball security on offense and turnovers on defense. And if you want the real story of this defense, it starts with turnovers. Mizzou had only eight interceptions a year ago. The Tigers had nine interceptions by week five this season and have 16 total. Mizzou is +11 on turnovers after being +4 a year ago, and it really has been a strong effort from the entire unit. Mizzou's pass rush has been boosted by being legitimately four deep at end, and that pass rush has helped out a secondary that had improved tremendously on its own anyway. The linebacking corps has been ravaged by injury for most of the season, but Andrew Gachkar and Zaviar Gooden have been all-conference level performers. The unit has been prone to the breakdown on occasion (see: Ronnie Hillman and Roy Helu), but the breakdowns have been much fewer and far between than in previous seasons.

BS: If you had to pick one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Ross Taylor: You ready for an unorthodox pick? It's a tie between Grant Ressel and Matt Grabner. Yep, you've just been special teams'd.

It seems like all Iowa does is play in close games. Ressel has been one of the best kickers in the country in the past two seasons, and Grabner seems to have dropped a punt inside the five in at least nine or ten games this year. Field positioning and points at every opportunity seem to be at a premium against the Hawkeyes.

Thanks so much to Ross Taylor. Check him out at

Ross Binder, of, was nice enough to answer some questions about the Hawkeyes.

BS: Despite an 11-2 record last year, and a top 10 early season ranking, the Hawkeyes went only 7-5. What went wrong this year in Iowa?
Ross Binder:  Iowa stumbled to a 7-5 season for a lot of reasons.  Injuries were a factor, especially on defense where the linebacking corps was particularly ravaged (by the end of the year two freshmen were getting significant playing time).  The offense also went into a tailspin in the back half of the season; they scored 17 points or fewer in their final four games (the 24 points they scored in the Minnesota game were aided by a kickoff return touchdown), despite playing some of the Big Ten's worst defenses (Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern).  And they could never get the big defensive stop in the fourth quarter of a close game; they led or were tied in in the fourth quarter of all five of the games they lost, only to give up late scores in all five games.
BS: The offense was good for most of the year, but struggled down the stretch. What changed towards the end, and please comment on the offense in general, including some personnel.
Ross Binder:  There were a few key injuries (OG Adam Gettis and Nolan MacMillan both missed a lot of time at the end of the year and RB Adam Robinson missed all or part of three games with concussions), but mainly it was just a matter of not making plays.  The execution was poor; they were a hair away from making a lot of big plays but just couldn't complete them.

BS: The defense was great, giving up only 16 points per game. What and who are the strong areas for this unit?
Ross Binder: The strongest areas of the defense are the defensive line and the secondary.  The defensive line didn't live up to their lofty preseason expectations, but they were still very stout (especially against the run).  The biggest problem was a lack of sacks and a pass rush that couldn't get to the quarterback quick enough at the end of games.  The secondary was generally good, but gave up some big plays late in the season.  Thanks to inexperience and injury, the linebackers were definitely the weakest area of the defense.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?
Ross Binder: WR Colin Sandeman.  He's going to get a lot more looks now that the normal starter at that WR spot, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, has been effectively kicked off the team for drug-related arrests.  He's been good in limited action, so with a full game (his last game in an Iowa uniform, no less) of snaps, he could post some very solid numbers, especially with the other starting WR (Marvin McNutt) attracting most of the defense's attention.


Thanks a lot to Ross. Check him out at

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