Fort Worth, Texas will host a pre-Christmas bowl game as the SEC’s Missouri Tigers face Army in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Missouri is playing in its first bowl since 2018, although it was selected for a game that was canceled due to COVID last bowl season.
Army returns to the Armed Forces Bowl, where it is 3-0 all time. The Black Knights are playing in their fifth bowl in the last six years, with four of them taking place in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Keep reading to check the NCAAF odds and start cashing out at the top-rated sportsbooks!
Missouri Tigers vs. Army Black Knights
Wednesday, 22 December 2021 – 8:00 PM EST at Amon G. Carter Stadium
Turning Things Around on the Ground
Missouri enters the game at 6-6 on the year, but things looked headed far south of .500 prior to the Tigers’ mid-October bye week. Missouri was swept in its first three SEC games, never leading in losses to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas A&M.
The Tigers also lost to Boston College and were 3-4, with wins over a less than impressive non-conference slate of directional schools that included Central Michigan, Southeast Missouri, and North Texas.
The Tigers were getting gashed on the ground, giving up just under 300 rushing yards a game, second-worst in all of FBS, including 458 in a 62-24 loss to Tennessee. Missouri fired defensive line coach Jethro Franklin following the Tennessee game.
Since the bye, however, Missouri has looked like a different team. The run defense cut its average in half, giving up just under 148 yards a game on the ground. The Tigers won three of four, including a one-point win over Florida.
While the defense has done better against the run, the offense has seen the value of a ground attack. Tyler Badie set the school’s single-season record with 1,604 rushing yards, good for the SEC lead and the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back. Badie rushed for 200 yards in three of the last five games, all Missouri wins. The team announced that he’s been taking part in bowl practices and is expected to play in the game instead of opting out to prepare for the draft.
Crashing the Party
Army enters the game at 8-4, the fifth time in the last six years the Black Knights have won at least eight. The team is coming off a loss to arch-rival Navy last week, however, and will be looking to wash the bad taste of that game from its mouth. The Navy loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Army since its bye at the end of October.
“I don't know if there's any loss that feels worse than losing that game,” said coach Jeff Monken. “It bothers our guys. It bothers me. I mean, I'm mad and dejected. You're going to feel that way. It's the biggest game of the year, our biggest rivalry. We want to beat them more than we want to beat anybody.”
Now Army needs to regroup, finish exams, and then prepare for Missouri. “That's the great thing about having a chance to play the bowl game,’’ Monken said. “It gives us one more opportunity to put it behind us … to go out there and compete again, together, one more time. We're looking forward to that.”
As is often the case with service academies, Army’s offense is primarily a ground attack. The Knights had two games this season where they didn’t throw a pass. Despite the run-heavy game plan, Army didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, which makes it difficult for a defense to key on one guy. The Knights had four players rush for 400 or more yards.
Missouri’s run defense has improved, but it will be put to the test by Army’s run game. The Black Knights have played Wisconsin and Wake Forest this year, so a .500 SEC team won’t be anything out of the ordinary. For your college football picks, look for Army to continue its success in the bowl that was made for it.
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