The North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5) and Missouri Tigers (7-5) will meet up in the Independence Bowl Monday night in a game televised on ESPN2.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Missouri Tigers

Missouri Tigers QB James Franklin is a true dual threat under center

North Carolina is set to play in the 11th-oldest bowl game and will be playing its final game under interim coach Everett Withers.  The Tar Heels have hired former Southern Mississippi front man Larry Fedora to be on the sidelines starting in 2012.

“I’m excited for our players, especially this group of seniors,” stated Withers in practice after the firing of Butch Davis for numerous NCAA violations before the season.  “We now have a chance to win eight games for the fourth straight year and win our second consecutive bowl game.”

The Tar Heels have a dynamic offensive duo in running back Giovani Bernard and wide receiver Dwight Jones.  North Carolina comes in with its first-ever 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver in school history.  Quarterback Bryn Renner will be in charge of getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers, sitting just 231 passing yards away from 3,000 for the season.

Bettors will find that the Tar Heels are 7-4 ATS in non-conference action the last two-plus seasons, while posting a 2-0 ATS mark on the turf over the same time period.

Missouri closed out its regular season with three consecutive wins and also went ‘under’ the total in each of those contests.  The Tigers will be playing in this particular bowl game for the third time since the 2003 season, splitting a pair of games, capturing a 38-31 win over South Carolina in 2005 and dropping a 27-21 decision to Arkansas in 2003.

Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel is 4-4 in this career during bowl games, which includes a 3-4 mark at Missouri.  He has turned the program into one of the best in the Big 12 Conference, posting the 10th-most wins since the 2007 season.

Sophomore quarterback James Franklin is the star of the show offensively, ranking 15th in the league in averaging 298.2 yards per game of total offense, which includes 839 rushing yards and a team-best 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Missouri has won each of the previous two games against North Carolina, but the programs haven’t met since 1976.

From a betting perspective, the Tar Heels are 19-9 ATS as an underdog, while the Tigers are 0-5 ATS in December.

Recommendation:  North Carolina Tar Heels +6

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