Missouri and Army will do battle on Wednesday night in the Armed Forces Bowl down in Fort Worth, Texas. The Tigers are 6-6 and coming off a loss to rival Arkansas but won their previous two games, including an overtime victory over Florida at home. Coach Eli Drinkwitz is fresh off a surprisingly great early signing period and would love nothing more than to finish off the 2021 season with a winning record.
The Black Knights were stunned by rival Navy on Dec. 11 but have the chance to post a nine-win season as a nice consolation. They had won four straight prior to that loss, which gives them at least a little momentum despite their most recent setback.
Let's break down the Armed Forces Bowl and make picks straight up and against the spread
Missouri vs. Army: Need to know
Missing in action: Star running back Tyler Badie, who rushed for 1,604 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021 en route to second-team CBS All-America honors, announced on Tuesday that he will sit out the bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. The second-leading rusher on the Tigers is freshman Michael Cox, who gained just 150 yards in eight games. The versatile former walk-on will likely split duties with fellow freshman BJ Harris in the backfield for the Tigers.
Army's unique rushing attack: The triple-option is always tough to prepare for, but the Tigers had two-and-a-half weeks to get ready for it. Will it matter, though? The Missouri defense is 124th in the nation against the run, giving up 229.33 yards per game on the ground. Needless to say, this is a bad, bad matchup for the Tigers. Black Knights stars Tyrell Robinson and Christian Anderson provide a brutal one-two punch on the ground and could take advantage of a horrid Missouri defense.
QB showcase: Missouri's Connor Bazelak was benched late in the Tigers' last game vs. Arkansas, and has been fighting through a leg injury for the majority of the season which opened the door for redshirt freshman Brady Cook to start on Wednesday. Cook went 14 of 19 for 78 yards in the loss to Georgia on Nov. 6 in what was his only extended playing time. Could that mean the bowl game is an audition for the 2022 season? Absolutely. It'll be interesting to see how much Missouri airs it out against the Black Knights.
How to watch Armed Forces Bowl live
Game: Armed Forces Bowl
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 22 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium -- Fort Worth, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Armed Forces Bowl prediction, picks
I'll take the Tigers to not only cove but win outright. Drinkwitz knows that his 2022 team has to be able to open up the offense, so expect some fireworks from that side of the ball. Yes, I'm banking on Missouri's defense to do something that it hasn't done all year. But it has had plenty of time to prepare and self-scout after what was a disappointing season. Prediction: Missouri (+6.5)
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