Tag:Larry Fedora
Posted on: February 10, 2012 2:24 pm
 

Fedora responds to Franklin "men of honor" quote

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A controversial Signing Day comment from Vanderbilt coach James Franklin on the topic of decommitments made its way back to new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who'd had one of his commitments sign instead with Franklin's Commodores. So maybe it's not surprise that Fedora had something pointed to say about Franklin saying the players who had backed out of their Vandy commitments were "not men of honor."

“What does he say about the kids that were committed elsewhere and de-committed from their places to go to his place?" Fedora told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when asked about Franklin's statement. "That’s my comment. What is his comment on those people? He’s got someone in his recruiting class that did that very thing. He’s saying those guys are not men of honor? Basically, he’s saying he has got kids in his own recruiting class that are not men of honor."

"He said that," Fedora clarified, "and I didn’t.”

Fedora wasn't the only coach to speak on the record to the AJC about Franklin's comments -- Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and USC's Lane Kiffin each expressed disagreement in milder terms -- but the cutting edge to Fedora's complaint likely stems from the defection of Maryville (Tenn.) quarterback Patton Robinette, who was already attending orientation events at UNC before ultimately joining the Commodores instead.

To his credit, Franklin didn't shy away from the apparent hypocrisy of his comments, not disagreeing when asked if they amounted to a "double standard":

“I think you get frustrated, and you get upset because kids commit to you. But you’re exactly right. It was like the year before, when we got in here at the last minute and only had a month left for recruiting, we got kids to de-commit to us. I think that’s a very, very valid point.”

Franklin declined to address Fedora's comments specifically, saying he would only discuss "what we do here [at Vandy]." But he did also backtrack from his original "not men of honor" statement:

“I think I probably would’ve worded some things differently ... I have great respect for all the young men that committed to us. I have great respect for some of the men that changed their minds and went in another direction. They thought it was in the best interest for them and their family. But it hurts when you lose a guy when you’ve been recruiting him for a year.”

As "frustrated" as Franklin may have been, and as badly as losing a recruit may "hurt," it's still poor form for a head coach to criticize the decisions of a 17- or 18-year-old. (It also won't do anything for Franklin's already growing reputation as a coach whose emotions can sometimes get the better of him.) Kudos to Franklin for admitting the critics may have a "valid point"--but equal kudos to Fedora for being willing to point out why those comments shouldn't have been said in the first place. 

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:40 pm
 

ACC Recruiting Reset

Posted by Chip Patterson

Now that the 2011 season has come to an end it's time to move on to the next phase of the college football year: recruiting. With the ACC Recruiting Reset we fill you in on what you may have missed in the ACC and what you should expect to see between now and signing day.

TOP THREE CLASSES

1. Miami - Head coach Al Golden's goal was a 30-person recruiting class, and the Hurricanes appear well on their way with 31 verbal commitments. Defensive end Jelani Hamilton will add depth to a young defensive line next season, while top-rated running back Duke Johnson should have an opportunity to wow Canes fans early with Lamar Miller on his way to the NFL. The Hurricanes already have a class that ranks in the Top 10 nationally, and still could close with a few more names before signing day.

2. Florida State - Some shaky commitments from top recruits Mario Edwards and Jameis Winston have knocked Florida State from the presumed top recruiting spot in the conference. Both elite prospects could likely end up with the Seminoles, but with only 15 commits any defects hurt the class. But with four of MaxPreps' Top 100 on board, Jimbo Fisher has assembled yet another impressive group of highly-touted recruits.

3. Clemson - Dabo Swinney's recruiting prowess was on display in 2011, winning an ACC Championship while usually playing 20+ redshirt or true freshman per game. The 2012 class is shaping up to be another strong one, highlighted by safety Travis Banks and highly-touted defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. The Tigers are still in the play for several top recruits, including Ronald Darby (below), and could see their ranking improve in the coming weeks.

TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE

1. Ronald Darby - After de-committing from Notre Dame, one of the nation's top cornerbacks has re-opened his recruiting to several schools including Clemson, Florida State, and Maryland. In addition to being a top-ranked defensive back, Darby is also a gifted return specialist and can have an immediate impact on any team he joins.

2. Jameis Winston - One of the nation's top quarterback prospects scared Florida State fans when his supposed firm commitment softened in recent months. Many still expect Winston to end up in Tallahassee, but a late push from Alabama and a career in Major League Baseball have threatened Florida State's chances to sign the dynamic signal-caller.

WORK TO DO

1. North Carolina - The combination of a less-than-smooth coaching transition and an impending ruling from the NCAA has created a difficult recruiting environment for new head coach Larry Fedora. One unforeseen challenge in the final weeks includes signing a quarterback. Backup quarterback Braden Hanson will transfer to North Dakota and top QB prospect Patton Robbinette, scheduled to enroll for the spring semester this week, has decided to flip to Vanderbilt.

2. Boston College - Head coach Frank Spaziani felt his seat in Chestnut Hill heat up after the Eagles' 4-8 record in 2011 resulted in the program's first bowl-less postseason since 1998. The first opportunity to win back support comes in recruiting, and Boston College is currently looking at one of the least impressive classes in the conference. Both in current number (14) and caliber of commitments.

Keep up to date with all the latest recruiting news leading up to National Signing Day with our Eye On Recruiting Blog with Bryan Fischer. 

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Posted on: December 26, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 9:02 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Missouri 41, North Carolina 24

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WON. The Tigers scored on their first five offensive drives, and never gave North Carolina a chance to come back on the the way to a 41-24 win in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. Missouri quarterback James Franklin delivered another impressive dual threat performance - picking up 132 yards and a touchdownthrough the air while adding 142 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

HOW MISSOURI WON: North Carolina's offense never had a chance to get in a rhythm, with the Tigers' defense applying pressure to quarterback Bryn Renner and shutting down the Tar Heels' rushing attack. North Carolina picked up just 36 team rushing yards against Missouri, well below their regular season average of 147.4 yards per game. But that defense also benefited from the efficiency of Franklin and the offense. The Tigers scored on every offensive possession in the first half, and did not punt until the 7:16 mark in the third quarter. While the defense was delivering stops, the offense continued to grind away at the Tar Heels and create scoring opportunities by converting on key third downs. The extended drives kept the Tigers in the driving seat, all the way until the end. The victory gave the Tigers their sixth-straight 8-win season, and some great momentum on their way into the SEC East.

WHEN MISSOURI WON: Midway through the second quarter, North Carolina's defense needed to deliver a stop to keep the Tigers from scoring after a Gio Bernard fumble. Staring down a short field, Franklin converted on 2 third downs in the 40 yard drive on the way to increasing the Missouri lead to 24-7. On the Tar Heels' next play from scrimmage, a Dwight Jones bobbled catch turned into an astonishing interception for Tigers' defensive back Zaviar Gooden. At that point, it was clear things weren't going North Carolina's way.

WHAT MISSOURI WON: A fine highlight to show to their future conference partners in the SEC. James Franklin's performance against a talented North Carolina defense showed how comfortable he has gotten leading this Tigers' offense. Now with four-straight wins since Henry Josey's freak knee injury, Franklin has displayed the composure Missouri will need facing the SEC defenses in 2012.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: North Carolina's roster has several NFL Draft hopefuls, but none of the prospects got much to put on tape from Monday night's loss. There was some speculation heading into the game that the talented draft class would look to make a statement in their final game as a Tar Heel. For whatever combination of reasons, the Tar Heels missed out on the opportunity to pick up their second-straight bowl victory because they didn't show up.

THAT WAS CRAZY: The aforementioned Dwight Jones bobble interception.  It was just one of those moments when the ball seemed to bobble forever, and the ease with which it fell to Gooden made you believe this was not North Carolina's day.

FINAL GRADE: B-minus. Franklin was still producing impressive plays on his feet well into the fourth quarter, and North Carolina's brief offensive explosion in the third quarter kept it interesting. But the Tar Heels' unenthusiastic showing in general took some of the luster of this matchup. Missouri was decidedly dominant throughout the game, and there was very little in doubt after the second drive of the game. .

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Posted on: December 25, 2011 12:52 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 22 Southern Miss 24, Nevada 17

Posted by Chip Patterson

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON. After both teams got off to sluggish starts, Southern Mississippi was able to take advantage of a 4th down stop on defense to secure a 24-17 win in an unusually low-scoring Hawaii Bowl.

HOW SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON: After both teams entered the game with plans to crank up productive offenses, winning required big plays from defense and special teams on Saturday night. Southern Miss got a huge performance from defensive end Cordarro Law (seven tackles, two sacks) in the second half, and Austin Davis was able to deliver a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter to seal a program-best 12th win for the Golden Eagles.

WHEN SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON: With Davis held in check by Nevada's defense, the Golden Eagles did not benefit from the usual collection of big plays to fuel the offense. Luckily, the senior quarterback found Dominique Sulliivan for a 43 yard catch and run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning touchdown. Nevada was stout on D, but the Golden Eagles kept taking shots until they hit the home-run. In a closely played defensive showdown where punts nearly match first downs, just one big play is enough to change the course of the game.

WHAT SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON: A program-best 12th win for the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss is not a perennial favorite, but there have been enough talented rosters come through Hattiesburg for the history-making season to mean something for the 2011 squad. Clearly the team is in a strange position with Larry Fedora on his way to Chapel Hill, but at least he stuck around to enjoy this win with his players.

WHAT NEVADA LOST: Their fourth straight game in the state of Hawaii, increasing their postseason struggles to five losses in their last six bowl appearances. Chris Ault's squad could not get over themselves and the mistakes, especially down the stretch. The Wolf Pack have been to seven straight postseasons, but the record did not get any better with the loss on Christmas Eve in Honolulu.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Despite being two of the top offensive teams in the country, both teams struggled to turn their high-powered schemes into points after the long lay-off. Maybe it was the circumstances, but it seemed like both teams got off to sluggish starts offensively, and neither was able to deliver their normal production by 2011 standards.

FINAL GRADE: C. Blocked punts in the end zone, big-time rushing performances, a one-score game in the final minutes. There war definitely enough positive aspects in this year's Hawaii Bowl to give the game some watchability, but the sluggish starts and lack of explosive plays was far from what we expected with these two squads. All in all felt very "meh" as a whole.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:10 pm
 

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Posted by Eye On College Football 


Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What changes, if any, would you make to the current bowl schedule and/or bowl eligibility requirements?


Bryan Fischer: Any time you have a team like UCLA playing in a game at 6-7, I think it underscores that there needs to be a new rule that you not only be 6-6, but 7-5 at the very minimum. I get that the bowl games are a treat for the players but shouldn't we be rewarding winners and not the mediocre? The entire bowl system seems to have turned into the college football equivalent of a participation trophy. This, of course, ties-in with the line of reasoning that there are too many bowl games. At some point we'll get to the point where there's a good number of games for good teams but right now the excess causes mediocrity. For every crazy New Orleans Bowl finish we get, there's just as many Beef O'Brady Bowl duds it seems.

Tom Fornelli: I tend to agree with Bryan in that I'm not a big fan of 6-6 teams being rewarded for mediocrity, and I usually fall in line with the "there are too many bowl games" crowd, but then a funny thing happens every year. The games start, and they feature a couple of 6-6 teams, and I love them.

Yeah, there are some duds, but there are plenty of duds every Saturday during the regular season. So I think my personal criticisms from the current bowl system come from the fact that I'd like to see some type of playoff. A plus-one being the minimum of what I'd like to see.  So while I get extremely annoyed when I see that 6-6 Florida is playing 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I'm sorry, the TAXSLAYER.COM (bangs head, SIGN OF THE BEAST!!!) Gator Bowl, I'll probably still watch the game. I'm just a college football junkie, there's no way around it.

Jerry Hinnen: There's an easier fix for getting the UCLA-like riffraff out of the postseason than scuttling existing bowls: re-institute the discarded NCAA mandate that bowls must take teams with winning records ahead of teams with .500 (or sub-.500, in the Bruins' case) marks. "Too many bowls" is going to be a hard sell for the folks at places like Temple -- who unfairly sat at home after going 8-4 in Al Golden's final season last year -- or Western Kentucky, who should have gotten their first-ever FBS bowl bid after 2011's second-place Sun Belt finish and 7-5 record.

Cases like Temple's and WKU's are why, personally speaking, I'm fine-n'-dandy with the Participation Trophy Bowl circuit; not every game is going to be riveting theater (and matchups like UCLA-Illinois or Louisville-N.C. State promise to be quite the opposite), but it's not like anyone's required to watch. Should the seniors on that UL-Lafayette team we saw celebrating like they'd collectively won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes Saturday night have been denied that once-in-not-even-most-people's-lifetimes experience just because a few college football diehards don't want to risk being bored?

Is the long-since-antiquated notion that bowl berths are for no one but mid-major champions and the top handful of major-conference programs worth brilliant Hilltoppers' running back Bobby Rainey ending his career without a bowl appearance? Not if you ask me--if the players want to play them, the the local organizers want to host them, it's not my place (or any fan's) to say they shouldn't. The number of bowls is fine; the way the teams are selected could just use a little pro-winning-record tweaking. Besides, give it another month and there won't be any college football at all. I'll take whatever I can get at this stage, Belk Bowl included.

(That said, it would be outstanding if the NCAA also prohibited the exorbitant ticket guarantees that have turned bowl trips into a financial sinkhole for so many smaller schools, but that's a separate issue from the scheduling/eligibility question.)

Chip Patterson: I too would like to see limping 6-6 BCS conference team taken out of the bowl equation, particularly when there are dangerous Non-BCS teams that have been left out of postseason play in recent years. One way could be to change the requirements to 7-5, but this season I thought of another wrinkle.

Instead of changing the bowl eligibility record/win total, add a stipulation that requires a team to finish .500 or better in league play. Many times, the 6-6 team that fails to show up for a bowl game has struggled down the stretch and enters the postseason with little-to-no momentum. If schools are going to benefit from conference tie-ins, make them perform in conference play to earn that right. A 6-6 team with a 3-5 conference record likely is not playing their best football at the end of the season, and might be a part of one of the dud bowl games we have seen recently.

I would also prefer to move the "gutter" bowl games back before the BCS and traditional New Years Day games. That stretch of bowls leading up to the National Championship Game is one of the places where we find unattractive matchups and lose college football excitement after the blitz of New Years Day. If those games were moved back before the New Year and the title game was pushed back to Jan 4-5, it would arguably be a better spot for college football to capitalize on the nation's interest. Not only does the average fan have to wait, but they have to be teased with games that would be better consumed in pieces during a Dec. 28 doubleheader.

Adam Jacobi: It's important to keep in mind that most of these lowest-tier bowls are media-owned entities, which were created and staged every year because from a media perspective, live televised FBS college football is more lucrative than anything else that could be aired in the middle of a December week. As such, if you want to get rid of these bowls, you had better come up with something that produces higher ratings for that network instead, otherwise, no amount of hand-wringing about the quality of the teams playing in bowls is going to result in any meaningful change. This is not a scandal or anything that should not be, mind you, because it does not negatively affect fairness of play or anything else of vital importance. It's merely the entity that stands to gain most from lowest-tier bowls being played, making sure that the lowest-tier bowls get played by owning and organizing them. That's just good business.

Moreover, if by some chance these lowest-tier bowls happen to disappear, as much as we're tired of seeing a 6-6 (3-5) BCS-conference team get into the postseason, let's not pretend that that team's going to be the first against the wall. It's going to be the also-rans of the MAC, WAC, C-USA, and every other non-AQ conference, because 90% of the time, those non-AQ schools draw lower ratings than their BCS-level counterparts. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between UCLA and Illinois is going to suck, but if we're being honest about what bowl organizers really want out of a team that they invite, UCLA and Illinois are going to keep getting bowl invitations over even 8-win teams like Tulsa, Toledo, or Louisiana Tech.

So if you're asking me what I would change about the bowl system, I wouldn't possibly know where or how to begin. The bowl system is a product of media desires and inequality in FBS football, so if you want the bowl system to be any different, you'd better figure out a way to fix either the media landscape or the college football landscape first, and well... good luck with that.

Tom Fornelli: What if we replace the mid-week December games with gladiator like competitions? In which players from each school battle each other to the death. The loser, obviously, dies and frees up a scholarship for the school. The winner gets extra credit in any class of his choosing!

WHO WOULDN'T WATCH?

Adam Jacobi: Well, that would certainly be heartbreaking for everyone involved.

I wouldn't mind it if the sponsors (or bowl organizers or the stadium) had a little bit of leeway in ground rules for these games. These are silly games anyway (unless I'm supposed to take something called the Beef O'Brady's Bowl completely seriously all of a sudden), so why shouldn't the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl be played with literally a giant potato for a football? Field goals in the Holiday Bowl worth 4 points if they're from more than 45 yards out? Fine by me! Special uniforms in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl designed to look like boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? OF COURSE we should be doing that.

So yeah, as long as we're going to have ultimately trivial exhibitions end the seasons of so many teams, we might as well make said trivial exhibitions unique in ways that go beyond mere branding.

Tom Fornelli: These ideas have my full support.  Can you imagine how much better the Orange Bowl would be if they were using an orange instead of a football?

Chip Patterson: Did they change tires on car at half time of the Meineke Car Care Bowl? If not they should.  Same goes for the Belk Bowl. I think instead of a coin toss there should be a Dockers shopping spree to determine who gets the ball first.

Adam Jacobi: And if Hooters got involved, there would be... lots of wings available for attending fans to eat. And that is all.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:27 am
 

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Posted by Adam Jacobi

After losing head coach Larry Fedora to the North Carolina job, Southern Miss needed to find a new face to head its football program. It has apparently found that new head coach in South Carolina defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Ellis Johnson.

Johnson, who is three days away from his 60th birthday, has reportedly accepted an offer from USM after interviewing with school president Martha Saunders on Monday night, according to the Clarion-Ledger, and is expected to accept the job as early as Tuesday. Johnson has a brief history with Southern Miss, as he was the defensive coordinator there in 1988 and 1989. 

The South Carolina defense ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total defense in three of Johnson's four years in Columbia, and this year was the Gamecocks' best of the four. South Carolina ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense this season, and fourth nationally (behind three other SEC teams, of course).

Prior to his time at South Carolina, Johnson spent time at various teams in the SEC and elsewhere in the southeastern U.S, including a four-year stint as Alabama's defensive coordinator from 1997 to 2000. Johnson was the head coach at the Citadel, his alma mater, from 2001-03; he managed a 12-22 record there before taking a job as Mississippi State's defensive coordinator in 2004.

No announcements of an impending hire have been made by Southern Miss, and no reports have surface about any contract terms that Johnson may have agreed to, but the "two sources with direct knowledge of the search" at USM that the Clarion-Ledger cited have indicated that the hire is a done deal.

CBSSports.com will provide more informaton when it becomes available.



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Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:52 pm
 

Independence Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Independence Bowl

James Franklin, QB, Missouri vs. North Carolina's defensive front

Ever since Missouri lost running back Henry Josey to a season-ending knee injury, most of the offensive success has been based around what sophomore quarterback James Franklin can create. De'Vion Moore has seen an increased workload at running back and Kendial Lawrence has added three strong performances since the Big 12's leading rusher saw his season ended by the "one in a million" injury.

The good news for Missouri is that Franklin has stepped up in Josey's absence, leading the Tigers to three straight wins to close the regular season. Because of Franklin's rushing ability, the Tigers' offense has not become one-dimensional after the loss of their leading rusher. However, North Carolina's defensive front presents one of Franklin's toughest challenges on the season.

The Tar Heels' front seven is anchored by Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, and linebacker Zach Brown. All three received All-ACC honors or mention, and all three are seniors who have earned the interest of NFL scouts. North Carolina ranks No. 2 in the ACC and 14th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 106.2 yards per game. They were one of the only teams to hold both Miami's Lamar Miller and Virginia Tech's David Wilson under 100 yards rushing this season, and have only allowed nine rushing touchdowns on the year.

But despite the impressive statistics, the defense has suffered lapses at times this season and struggled to get off the field when they needed a big stop. There will likely several occasions in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport where Missouri needs to convert a third down and it will be Franklin against the Tar Heels. Containing the Tigers' star quarterback is the only way North Carolina can hope to give Gio Bernard, Bryn Renner and the Tar Heels' offense a chance to find a rhythm against Missouri's stout D.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Independence Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WILL WIN IF: They can limit turnovers on offense and prevent the big play on defense. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin's performance in the regular season finale against Kansas showed both the best and worst of Missouri's offense sans Henry Josey (knee). The worst came early in the game, with Franklin tossing three interceptions in the first 18 minutes of play and the Tigers' offense only producing one scoring drive - which resulted in a field goal. The best came in the second half, with Franklin wearing down the Kansas defense and taking advantage of their weaknesses by creating big plays on the way to a 24-10 win.

North Carolina is much stronger than Kansas, and three first half interceptions may not be something the Tigers can expect to bounce back from in the Independence Bowl. As long as Franklin is smart with the ball and avoids turnovers, he can keep taking his shots through the air and on the ground until he eventually hits the big play. Defensively the Tigers are much better than their numbers suggest, especially when you consider the competition. Still, even the best defense can be broken down by someone like North Carolina wide receivers Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith, or Jheranie Boyd. Running back Gio Bernard will likely see a heavy load on the ground as well, and the Tigers must keep the shifty freshman from breaking outside and hitting the sidelines.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: The front seven can contain and pressure Missouri quarterback James Franklin. Ever since Henry Josey's season-ending knee injury, much of Missouri's offense has been based around Franklin creating plays. Luckily for the Tigers the sophomore signal caller not only can extend the play with his legs, but take off and make defenders miss in the open field. In the first game without Josey - the Big 12's leading rusher at the time of his injury - Franklin rushed for a career high 152 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while still adding 172 yards and two touchdowns through the air. North Carolina's front seven is filled with NFL-caliber talent. However, there have been several games this season where it seems the defensive line and linebackers have not lived up to that NFL-caliber hype. With the nationally televised bowl game, it would be in the best interest of these pro prospects to delver their best performance of the season in this game. If Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, Zach Brown, and the rest of the front seven are able to contain and frustrate James Franklin, they will benefit their own draft stock and give the Tar Heels a much better chance to win their second-straight bowl game. A win-win scenario for the NFL-hopefuls.

X-FACTOR: Who Wants It More? Missouri certainly enters the game with a momentum advantage, winning four of their final five games while North Carolina lost four of their last six. Missouri picked up the invite after being over by the bowls with a Big 12 tie-in, not a surprise considering the Tigers' upcoming departure for the SEC. It will be the last game for interim head coach Everett Withers, who has already confirmed he's not staying with the Tar Heels "in any capacity" under new head coach Larry Fedora. So with Missouri in between conferences and North Carolina in between coaches, the team that can find the motivation for the moment will have an advantage on Dec. 26 in Shreveport.

That kind of advantage will likely be necessary in a bowl game that has been decided by seven points or less five of the last six years, with Georgia's 44-20 win against Texas A&M in 2009 being the only exception. Regardless of the expectations heading into the game, that matchup has always been close in recent years. Maybe it is the mystic atmosphere of Shreveport, or Independence Stadium - where the game has been played every year since the bowl's creation in 1976 - but advantages in X's and O's seem to matter much less in this game. For either team to get win No. 8 in 2011, they will need an extra dose of "Want" on Dec. 26.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com