The Minnesota Golden Gophers have been selected to play the Missouri Tigers in the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The New Year’s Day classic will kick off in its traditional 1:00 p.m. ET slot on January 1 from the new Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium and will be televised nationally by ESPN on ABC.
“Buffalo Wild Wings is excited by the matchup of Minnesota and Missouri in our first Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl game,” said Judy Shoulak, president, North America Buffalo Wild Wings. “We’re looking forward to a game that will keep fans on the edge of their seats in Orlando and glued to TV screens at Buffalo Wild Wings across the country.”
Minnesota (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) makes its first appearance in Orlando. The Golden Gophers have back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since 2002-03. Head Coach Jerry Kill has Minnesota in its third consecutive bowl game and in search of its first bowl victory since their 2004 Music City Bowl win over Alabama.
Minnesota sports a powerful rushing attack featuring RB David Cobb and QB Mitch Leidner. Cobb enters the postseason ranked ninth in the nation with 1,548 rushing yards adding 13 scores while Leidner totaled 462 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground to go along with his 10 passing touchdowns. The Golden Gophers began the season 6-1, getting off to their best start since 2008. A bowl win would allow Minnesota to reach the nine-win plateau for just the eighth time in program history and the first since 2003.
Missouri (10-3, 7-1 SEC) makes its second appearance in Orlando, its first since defeating No. 18 Southern Miss in the 1981 Tangerine Bowl. The Tigers enter the matchup having won the SEC East Division for the second straight season in only their third year in the conference. Head coach Gary Pinkel has the Tigers in their 10th bowl game in 14 years, earning five wins in that span including a 41-31 victory over Oklahoma State in last year’s Cotton Bowl.
QB Maty Mauk has thrown for 23 touchdowns and 2,551 passing yards in his sophomore season, leading Missouri to six consecutive wins to end the regular season and finish at the top of its division. Senior tailback Marcus Murphy, a Paul Hornung Award finalist, is the only player in FBS this season to have recorded a touchdown in all four all-purpose categories: rushing, receiving, kick return and punt return. On the defensive side of the ball Missouri has been a tough task for opposing offenses, ranking in the top 20 in sacks (6th),tackles for a loss (8th),total defense (16th) and scoring defense (13th) this season. Lineman Shane Ray leads the SEC and is third in the nation with 14 sacks on the year.
“A 10-win Missouri team and its fans have not played in Orlando since 1981 and I assume Minnesota’s fans will be excited – considering the combination of the fine season the Gophers had and with the weather factor in January – so we are anticipating a great crowd for this matchup,” said Hogan. “It should be an interesting matchup of contrasting styles.”
Minnesota and Missouri meet for the first time since 1970 in the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The two teams have met eight times previously with Missouri holding a slight 4-3-1 edge including the last three matchups. The Golden Gophers won the first three meetings in the series from 1943-45 but have only scored 18 points in the five meetings since.