2009 Texas Bowl - Missouri vs. Navy
Mizzou LB Sean Weatherspoon & Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
Mizzou LB Sean Weatherspoon & Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
Posted Dec 26, 2009

The CFN 2009 Texas Bowl Preview - Navy vs. Missouri

2009 Texas Bowl

Missouri (8-4) vs. Navy (9-4)

Houston, TX, Dec. 31, 3:30 pm, ESPN

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Team Pages and 2009 Season


- 2008 CFN Texas Bowl Preview
- 2007 CFN Texas Bowl Preview
- 2006 CFN Texas Bowl Preview
National Rankings
M   N
32nd Total Offense 83rd
55th Total Defense 36th
33rd Scoring Offense 60th
56th Scoring Defense 20th
81st Rushing Offense 4th
12th Run Defense 38th
13th Passing Offense 120th
109th Passing Defense 48th
31st Turnover Margin 18th
Position Ratings
relative to each other
M 5 highest
1 lowest
4 Quarterbacks 4.5
3.5 RBs 4
5 Receivers 1
3 O Line 2
4 D Line 2
4 Linebackers 2.5
2 Secondary 2
4 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 5
Texas Bowl History
2008 Rice 38, Western Michigan 14
2007 TCU 20, Houston 13
2006 Rutgers 37, Kansas State 10
2005 TCU 27, Iowa State 24
2004 Colorado 33, UTEP 28
2003 Texas Tech 38, Navy 14
2002 Oklahoma St 33, Southern Miss 23
2001 Texas A&M 28, TCU 9
2000 East Carolina 40, Texas Tech 27

It's always interesting whenever Navy is involved and it's always interesting whenever there's a contrast in styles. Can Missouri handle the option? Can the Midshipman secondary slow down the high-octane Tigers? If nothing else, this will be another chance for Navy to show what it can do against a big name, while for Mizzou, this will be a chance to show that the rebuilding season was a successful one.

Last year, Missouri's veteran team went 10-4 finishing with an Alamo Bowl win over Northwestern. A win against Navy would end the year at 9-4, and considering the massive turnover in key spots, highlighted by the concern at quarterback, being one win off a Big 12-title-contending season would be a nice bridge to what should be a strong 2010. But stopping the Navy offense is always easier said than done.

Facing Navy always brings a host of big problems. For one, the rushing attack is always impossible to properly prepare for. It's one thing to practice for a month to stop it, but it's another to actually have to deal with it live. Second, Navy always brings the effort. Half the battle after a month-long layoff is to get the team fired up and playing at a midseason level, and Navy always tried a little harder than everyone else because it has to. And third, Navy really is good.

For all the success and all the big things that Paul Johnson did with Navy, what Ken Niumatalolo has done this year might turn out to be more impressive. Johnson had one ten-win season in Annapolis, going 10-2 in 2004, but the bowl win was over New Mexico, two of the wins came against Northeastern and Delaware from D-IAA, and there wasn't one game played before the victory over the Lobos, much less won, over a team that finished with a winning record. This year's Navy team has a chance to finish 10-4 while a win over Missouri might be among the program's strongest bowl victories ever.

There was a battle in a close loss at Ohio State to open the season and one of the other losses was at Pitt. There were two victories (Air Force and SMU) over bowl bound teams, two wins over BCS schools (Wake Forest and Notre Dame), and the streak over Army continued with an eighth straight win. But it's going to take a special effort and the breaking of a trend to get to ten wins.

Navy has suffered heartbreaks, losing to Boston College by one in the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl and by three to Utah in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl, but they were still losses as part of a three-game bowl losing streak. In school history there were only two bowl wins over programs now in the BCS with the last one coming over Cal in the 1996 Aloha Bowl and the other coming over Ole Miss in the 1954 Sugar.

On the other side, Missouri has been on a nice bowl run winning two straight and three of the last four with the loss coming in an epic collapse to Oregon State in the 2006 Sun Bowl. This year's team took a while to warm up, but instead of going into the tank after a rough three-game midseason losing streak to Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Texas, it got better winning four of the last five games with the one loss a bizarre brain-cramp at home to Baylor.

QB Blaine Gabbert and the offense was on fire from Halloween on, the defense played better than it ever did last year when the Tigers went to the Big 12 Championship, and the special teams have been fantastic. If Missouri plays up to its capabilities, it should make this an ugly Texas Bowl.

There have been a few nice Texas Bowls, the TCU 20-13 win over Houston in 2007 was a thriller and the Horned Frog 27-24 win over Iowa State in 2005 was exciting, but last year's 38-14 Rice win over Western Michigan was a disaster and the Rutgers 37-10 win over Kansas State in 2005 was one of the worst games of the bowl season. Of the nine Texas Bowls, only three have been decided by fewer than ten points. But these two teams should make it an entertaining game no matter what the outcome. There's plenty on the line for each.
Players to Watch
: It could be argued that the hottest player in America over the second half of the season was Missouri WR Danario Alexander , a senior who was having a good career before blowing up over the last five games. The 6-5, 210-pounder always had problems staying healthy, hurt mostly by a knee injury two years ago, but he was 100% and showed what he could do with double-digit catches in each of the last four games and finishing with 107 grabs for 1,644 yards and 13 scores. A tremendous deep threat, he opens things up for the rest of the offense.

No quarterback in the history of college football ran for more touchdowns in a season than Ricky Dobbs, the Navy junior who scored 24 times this season highlighted by five scores against Delaware, four against Western Kentucky, and four against Rice. Not just a runner, even though he ran for 1,026 yards, he also has an uncanny knack for coming up with the right pass at the right time. He barely completed half his throws and hit on five touchdown passes with three interceptions, and only threw for three scores after connecting on two in the season opener against Ohio State, but he has enough of an arm to make Missouri worry a little bit about the surprise pass.

Looking to meet with Dobbs early and often will be senior
Sean Weatherspoon in the final game of his tremendous career. The all-star linebacker made 104 stops this year, and while this wasn't the big stat season expected, he was effective as the leader of a vastly improved defense. His job will be to show enough discipline and maturity to not fall for the shiftiness of Dobbs, and if that means a few big plays might be made on the pitch from time to time, so be it. Mizzou has to rely on its team speed to keep the ground game from exploding for sixty minutes, but if Weatherspoon has a better game than Dobbs, this might not be close.

Navy will win if ... fullback Vince Murray is effective early on. Navy can't be one-dimensional with the ground game against the athletic and talented Missouri linebackers, and it has to do something, anything to push around the defensive tackles, primarily Jaron Baston . If Murray isn't effective on the inside, then Dobbs will have a harder time making things happen on the outside. However, Murray was great against Temple and Hawaii and Navy lost both games, but his two biggest games of the season came in the two biggest wins rushing for 175 against Wake Forest when Dobbs was out, and rushing for 158 yards against Notre Dame. His effectiveness will also help control the clock to keep the Tiger offense off the field.

Missouri will win if ... Navy doesn't come up with something quirky and some new wrinkle to get into the backfield. The Midshipmen were dead last in America in tackles for loss and 103rd in sacks generating just 18 sacks on the year, and that's not going to work against the Missouri passing game. QB Blaine Gabbert will be deadly with time to operate to let Alexander and the receivers work deep, and he'll get all he needs behind a line that has been consistently solid. Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen threw for 452 yards and two touchdowns, Hawaii's Bryant Moniz threw for 366 yards and three scores, and Pitt's Bill Stull threw for 245 yards and a touchdown. Gabbert didn't throw a pick in the last four games and threw interceptions in just three of the 12 games, losing two of those. Mizzou is 4-0 this year when he throws three touchdown passes, but Navy has allowed three scoring throws in just one game this year (in the loss to Hawaii).

What will happen: Gabbert should go crazy. Navy's numbers are better than the talent, and the secondary should have a nightmare of a time keeping Alexander under wraps. Even if the safeties are able to get the job done to prevent the big play, there's still Derrick Washington and the Mizzou ground game to deal with. Navy won't get enough of a push on the inside and the Tiger linebacking corps is too good to allow too many big plays. Navy will have a few nice drives and will win the time of possession battle, but it won't be enough to overcome a Tiger offense that will connect on enough home runs to get ahead early and stay there.

CFN Prediction: Missouri 34 … Navy 17 ... Line: Missouri -7

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Best Middie Bowl Moment: Ben Fay will forever be a part of Navy football lore. He was the backup quarterback, who came off the bench in the fourth quarter of the 1996 Aloha Bowl to help upset Cal, 42-38. The senior led the offense on touchdown drives of 80 and 84 yards over the final 10:38 as the Academy captured its first bowl win in 18 years.

Best Tiger Bowl Moment: The 2005 comeback win over South Carolina in the Independence Bowl was nice, but Missouri's biggest bowl conquests reside deep in the past, nine New Year's Day bowl games before 1971 and not one until 2007. A 21-14 defeat of Navy in the 1961 Orange Bowl ended a seven-game bowl losing streak, propelling the Tigers to No. 5 in the AP Poll and capping the best season in school history. In the win, the Mizzou D held Heisman winner Joe Bellino to just four yards on the ground.

Missouri Bowl History (12-14)
2008 Alamo Missouri 30, Northwestern 23 OT
2008 Cotton Missouri 38, Arkansas 7
2006 Sun Oregon State 39, Missouri 38
2005 Independ Missouri 38, South Carolina 31
2003 Independ Arkansas 27, Missouri 14
1998 Insight.com Missouri 34, West Virginia 31
1997 Holiday Colorado State 35, Missouri 24
1983 Holiday BYU 21, Missouri 17
1981 Tangerine Missouri 19, Southern Miss 17
1980 Liberty Purdue 28, Missouri 25
1979 Hall of Fame Missouri 24, South Carolina 14
1978 Liberty Missouri 20, LSU 15
1973 Sun Missouri 34, Auburn 17
1972 Fiesta Arizona State 49, Missouri 35
1969 Orange Penn State 10, Missouri 3
1968 Gator Missouri 35, Alabama 10
1965 Sugar Missouri 20, Florida 18
1962 Bluebonnet Missouri 14, Georgia Tech 10
1960 Orange Missouri 21, Navy 14
1959 Orange Georgia 14, Missouri 10
1949 Gator Maryland 20, Missouri 7
1948 Gator Clemson 24, Missouri 23
1945 Cotton Texas 40, Missouri 27
1941 Sugar Fordam 2, Missouri 0
1939 Orange Georgia Tech 21, Missouri 7
1924 Christmas Festival USC 20, Missouri 7
Navy Bowl History (6-8-1)
2008 EagleBank Wake Forest 29, Navy 19
2006 Poinsettia Utah 35, Navy 32
2006 Meineke Boston Coll 25, Navy 24
2005 Poinsettia Navy 51, Colorado St 30
2004 Emerald Navy 34, New Mexico 19
2003 Houston Texas Tech 38, Navy 14
1996 Aloha Navy 42, California 38
1981 Liberty Ohio State 31, Navy 28
1980 Garden St Houston 35, Navy 0
1978 Holiday Navy 23, BYU 16
1964 Cotton Texas 28, Navy 6
1961 Orange Missouri 21, Navy 14
1958 Cotton Navy 20, Rice 7
1955 Sugar Navy 21, Ole Miss 0
1924 Rose Navy 14, Washington 14