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Armed Forces Bowl Prediction and Preview: Missouri vs. Army West Point

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Prediction and Preview: Missouri Tigers vs. Army West Point Black Knights

Tigers and Black Knights look to finish their seasons on a high note when they meet in Fort Worth

Missouri and Army will meet for the first time since the 1982 season when the Tigers and Black Knights line up against each other in this season's Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas. Missouri will have had a little more rest since their last game on Nov. 26, while Army is coming off a loss in the annual Army-Navy Game against their Midshipmen Rivals on Dec. 11.

Related: College Football Picks for Every Bowl Game in 2021-22

Although both teams are coming off a loss and they approach this game coming off slightly different seasons. Missouri saw some promise for the future despite finishing the regular season at 6-6, while Army has turned in another solid season with eight wins, with a chance for a second straight season with nine wins.

Armed Forces Bowl: Missouri (6-6) vs. Army West Point (8-4)

Kickoff: Wednesday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, Texas)
Spread: Army West Point -4

When Missouri Has the Ball

Army won't be the only team in this matchup that knows how to run the football. Missouri senior running back Tyler Badie led the SEC with 1,604 rushing yards and an average of 133.7 yards per game on the ground. However, Badie was ruled out of this game on Tuesday, which leaves the Tigers looking to Dawson Downing, Michael Cox and Elijah Young to handle the workload.

Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak had a difficult regular-season finale against Arkansas, completing just 10 of 26 pass attempts for 65 yards and an interception, so head coach Eliah Drinkwitz will hope the passing game has more success against the Black Knights. In addition to the Badie news on Tuesday, Drinkwitz announced Brady Cook would start instead of Drinkwitz. The freshman completed 19 of 24 throws for 107 yards and a touchdown this year.

Army has good defensive numbers, which is partly due to the fact the Army offensive style is designed to run a lot of clock. Army has the nation's 15th-ranked total defense, but Army ranks 81st in the nation in average yards allowed per play (5.74 yards per play). If Missouri is going to win, it will need to get more productivity in its offensive opportunities. The Tigers rank 68th in the nation in yards per play (5.84).

When Army West Point Has the Ball

If there is one major weakness for the Missouri defense, it is defending the run. That could spell bad news for the Tigers against a service academy program that lives and breathes on the ground. Opposing offenses have rushed for 229.3 yards per game against Missouri this season, and Missouri ranked 14th in the 14-team SEC against the run. This should be great news for Army.

Army brings the nation's second-best rushing offense to the Armed Forces Bowl, which is hardly a surprise. Army averaged 286.92 rushing yards per game this season, which trails only Air Force. And rather than keep the ball in one or two players' hands, Army does a good job spreading the ball around. Tyrell Robinson leads Army with 603 yards, and senior quarterback Christian Anderson is second with 592 yards. But Jakobi Buchanan is the big scoring threat with a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns this season.

Final Analysis

Missouri has not won a bowl game since the 2014 season, and it should have a difficult time (especially without Badie) ending that drought. Army is not the most favorable matchup for the Tigers with the running game concerns, but Army doesn't have the offense to blow out the SEC program. Army will find a way to wear down the Tigers with its running game and rush their way to a bowl victory.

Prediction: Army West Point 34, Missouri 30

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— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, and Like him on Facebook.