Head to head: Navy vs. Missouri

Next up for Navy is Missouri. GoMids.com compares different critical team areas of Navy and Missouri and indicates which team has the edge.

Navy rushing offense
Missouri rushing defense
Ricky Dobbs will be facing the biggest challenge of his career in the Texas Bowl as the Tigers only give up an average of 96.4 yards per game on the ground. Nose tackle Jaron Baston (6-1, 305, Sr.) has 26 career starts, while weak-side linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (6-2, 250, Sr.) leads the team with 104 tackles. For the Midshipmen to be successful junior fullback Vince Murray needs to return to the form he showed in the SMU, Wake Forest, Temple and Notre Dame games. If not, the speed of the Tiger defense will pin down the Mids into 3rd and long situations.  
Navy passing offense
Missouri passing defense
Against Army, the Midshipmen had the opportunity to capitalize through the air. But holding penalties and an inopportune interception prevented that from reaching the stat book. But tape should show that this Navy team has the chance of hitting big plays through the passing game, which will in turn open up the running game. Missouri pass defense ranks 109th in the country and can not afford to overlook Ricky Dobbs' arm. Working in the Tigers favor though is Aldon Smith (6-5, 255, RSFr.) and his 11 sacks.  
Missouri rushing offense
Navy rushing defense
The Tigers make most of their noise through the air, but their ground game cannot be overlooked. Derrick Washington (6-0, 225, Jr.) has good size and has rushed for 10 touchdowns on the year. The Missouri offensive line averages 306 pounds each and my try to wear out the smaller Navy defense. But the Midshipmen have done well against the run, ranking 38th in the nation. Only Temple dominated the Mids (274 rushing yards) and Ohio State and Pitt were held to relatively pedestrian numbers (153 and 126 yards, respectively).  
Missouri passing offense
Navy passing defense
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert (6-5, 240, So.) has picked up right where Chase Daniel left off. Gabbert is 247 of 414 passing for 3,302 yards with 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His favorite target is easily recognizable. Danario Alexander (6-5, 215, Sr.) has 107 receptions for 1,644 yards and 13 touchdowns. In the last four games he is averaging 205 receiving yards per game. Kevin Edwards and Blake Carter will have their hands full. Generating some kind of pass rush would help, but Navy ranks 103 in sacks and Missouri ranks 27th in sacks allowed.  
Special Teams
The Midshipmen's coverage unit struggled against Army giving up an average of 26.5 yards per kickoff return. Even though Kyle Delahooke shanked one, he still averaged 40.4 yards per punt against the Black Knights. Joe Buckley finished the regular season 10 of 13 on field goal attempts. Plebe Bo Snelson appears to have taken over the primary kickoff return duties. Tigers' corner back Carl Gettis (5-11, 195, Jr.) and safety Jasper Simmons (6-1, 205, Jr.) are having solid season anchoring the Missouri return game. Punter Jake Harry IV (6-1, 195, Sr.) is opening up the eyes of NFL scouts with his 42.7 yard average and 12 punts of 50 or more yards. Kicker Grant Ressel (6-2, 190, So.) has not missed a field goal since October 8th. He is 24 of 25 for the year.  
Tigers' head coach Gary Pinkel is 67-45 in his 9 years at Missouri. He has led the Tigers to 5 consecutive bowl games and 6 in 7 years. His 6 bowl appearances ties him with Hall of Famer Dan Devine for most bowl game appearances in Mizzou history. Pinkel has turned around a struggling Tiger program. Missouri had just one winning season in the 17 years before his hiring. In the last 9 years, Pinkel has 6 winning seasons including back to back Big 12 North titles in 2007 and 2008. Coach Niumatalolo has consecutive winning seasons and Thursday will be his third bowl game.  
Missouri and their fans are disappointed they were passed over by the Insight Bowl, in favor a 6-6 Iowa State team they defeated 34-24 in the regular season. Navy travels exceptionally well to bowl games and the near sellout crowd will be predominantly pro-Navy. While players like Danario Alexander and Jaron Baston are thinking about their draft status, the likes of Bobby Doyle and Ross Pospisil are thinking about flight school and becoming Marine Corps Pilots. Letdown is never a possibility for a Navy football team.  

PREDICTION: Missouri 31, Navy 24

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