On paper it appears this border battle is an even matchup.
Both teams have a stingy defense. Iowa is sixth in the nation allowing only 16.4 points per game. Missouri is ranked fifth giving up a mere 15.2 points per game.
Both teams have efficient and effective quarterbacks and a solid offense. The Hawkeyes score 29.1 points a game and Missouri 30.3 points.
That’s where the similarities end.
Missouri comes into the game with all the momentum, confidence, ranked No. 12 and looking for their 11th win of the year. The Tigers have won three in a row (10-2 overall, 6-2 Big 12) and are playing in their sixth consecutive bowl.
Iowa stumbles into Tempe after losing their last three games of the season (7-5 overall, 4-4 Big 10). They also will be without their All-Big 10 wide receiver (arrested), their leading rusher (suspended) and three other running backs are unavailable for the game (transfers, medical conditions).
Iowa will rely on Senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi to lead the way. Stanzi had a superb season throwing for 25 touchdowns, only four interceptions and a qb rating of 160.5. He will be joined in a depleted backfield by Marcus Coker, a true freshman who carried only 81 times for 403 yards.
Iowa will try and depend on a defense that has three All-Big 10 players in defensive end Adrian Clayborn and defensive backs Shaun Porter and Tyler Sash. The Hawkeye defense blew three fourth-quarter leads down the stretch and will have their hands full with the Tigers speed.
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw for 15 touchdowns and ran for four against only seven interceptions. Missouri has a running back by committee as De Vion Moore, Henry Josey and Kendal Lawrence combined for 1292 yards, a 5.5 average and scored 16 touchdowns.
The two border states had met up 12 times in the 1800’s and early 1900’s until Missouri refused to play any team with black players which led to on-field brawls, forfeitures and the 100 year drought.
ESPN will carry the game Tuesday, Dec 28, at 9 pm CST