The 2022 Gasparilla Bowl features the 7-5 Wake Forest Demon Deacons against the 6-6 Missouri Tigers. Here is the 2022 Gasparilla Bowl preview.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-5)
Wake Forest took a step back after last year’s remarkable season. They fell short of preseason expectations after a tough 1-4 stretch to finish off the season. The highlights of the season were wins against respectable Liberty and Syracuse as well as a road win against ranked Florida State. Most of their losses were competitive and all to teams that reached at least eight wins.
The Demon Deacons score 36.8 points per game good for 15th in the country. They average 314.6 passing yards (ranked 10th) and 132.5 rushing yards per game (ranked 92nd).
There are a few offensive opt outs that shouldn’t impact the game too heavily. Backup runningback Christian Turner won’t play as well as WR3 in Jahmal Banks. Wake Forest has five receivers with over 500 yards this year and at least 36 receptions so the impact through the air shouldn’t be too bad. Quarterback Sam Hartman will play who’s had back to back seasons with at least 35 touchdowns through the air.
Wake Forest struggles mightily on defense. They allow 29.25 points per game which is tied for 93rd in the country. They allow a staggering 273 yards on offense (ranked 116th) and 137.6 yard on the ground (tied for 45th). Cornerback JJ Roberts is in the transfer portal and won’t play. Roberts was the team’s second string cornerback making an already weak passing defense thin in the secondary.
Missouri Tigers (6-6)
Missouri once again went 6-6, their 4th consecutive season at .500. They beat three bowl eligible teams including New Mexico State, Arkansas and a nice road win at then No.25 South Carolina. They lost to some top teams including Georgia, Tennessee and Kansas State but had a bad loss to 5-7 Auburn in overtime.
Missouri’s offense averaged struggled on offense averaging 25.5 points per game which is 83rd in the country. They pass for 212.3 yards per game (ranked 91st) and rush for 158.7 (ranked 62nd).
The Tigers passing attack will make do without top receiver Dominic Lovett who easily led the team with 56 receptions and 846 yards. Expect freshman Luther Burden III to step who leads the team with 6 touchdowns. Missouri will need the running game to show up big which has been one of the stronger points on offense. Three players have run for over 400 yards including both runningbacks and quarterback Brady Cook.
The defense allows 25 points per game which ties for 57th in the country. They allow 209.9 yards through the air (ranked 43rd) and 127.2 yards on the ground (ranked 34th). They are without defensive ends D.J. Coleman and Isaiah McGuire as well as Martez Manuel, all of which declared for the NFL Draft. Missouri’s defensive line has been the strong point on the season, particularly in the pass rush. They’ve consistently gotten pressure on quarterbacks and rattled the passing game. The losses will be crucial against a team which thrives through the air.
The losses on the defensive side might be too much to tackle for Missouri. The loss of their top receiver also means the offense will likely be more one dimensional. Despite the lack of prowess from Wake Forest’s defense, they should be able to handle a mediocre Missouri offense with help of a high powered offense.
Wake Forest 34 Missouri 21
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