a 10-3 season and a second straight Southeastern Conference Eastern Division championship, Mizzou Football will face Minnesota in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 1.

The Citrus Bowl is Mizzou’s second straight New Year’s Day bowl game. In its history, Mizzou has appeared in 11 bowl games on or after New Year’s Day.

This is the 31st time in program history that Mizzou Football will be playing in a postseason bowl game, and the 10th time under Head Coach Gary Pinkel. The 2015 Citrus Bowl will mark Mizzou’s second appearance in the tradition-rich game in its 69-year history. Mizzou topped Southern Miss, 19-17, in front of 50,466 fans in 1981, when the game was referred to as the Tangerine Bowl.

The Citrus Bowl pits the SEC against the Big Ten, and the SEC has emerged victorious in every contest over the past four years. Overall, the contest has been very evenly matched, as the two leagues have split the last 14 games.

Pinkel has never coached in the Citrus Bowl, but he’s no stranger to it, either — he played in the 1972 game as a standout tight end for head coach Don James’ Kent State squad.

When Mizzou and Minnesota meet in this year’s Citrus Bowl, they will renew a rivalry that has not been contested since 1970. The Tigers own a 4-3-1 series advantage and have surrendered just 18 points (3.6 per game) in the last five games against the Gophers, including three shutouts. This will be the first bowl matchup between Mizzou and Minnesota, as all eight previous meetings were played during the regular season.

Difference Makers

Mizzou’s defense has earned plenty of praise this season, most notably across the defensive line as coach Craig Kuligowski continues to establish Mizzou as one of the premier places for defensive lineman to play in the nation. The Tigers set a school record with 42 sacks in 2014, one better than the 41 it had last year. Mizzou’s 83 sacks over the past two seasons rank fifth nationally and the Tigers are one of just four teams nationally to post 40 or more sacks in each of the last two seasons. Mizzou’s 42 sacks are the sixth-highest total in the country, and its 3.08 sacks per game average ranks 10th among FBS schools and first in the SEC.

Leading the way on the defensive line is the dynamic duo of junior defensive end Shane Ray (1st Team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year) and senior defensive end Markus Golden (2nd Team All-SEC.) Ray led the SEC with 14 sacks on the season and Golden’s 8.5 sacks were the fifth highest total in the conference. Their 22.5 combined sacks led the SEC, and their 36.5 tackles for loss were the most among any duo in the conference.

On offense, wide receiver Bud Sasser (2nd Team All-SEC) has become a go-to target in Mizzou’s passing game — quarterback Maty Mauk connected with the senior wideout 70 times this season. That marks the most catches for a Tiger receiver since TJ Moe hauled in 92 in 2010. Sasser is second in the SEC in receptions per game (5.4,) and his 10 touchdown grabs and 935 receiving yards each rank third in the conference.

Tailback Marcus Murphy (1st Team All-SEC and SEC Special Teams Player of the Year) is a force on all sides of the ball. The senior has 165 rushes, 26 receptions, and 40 kick returns on the season, and was named one of five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, which is given annually to the nation’s most versatile player. Murphy is the only player in the FBS to score a touchdown this season in all four all-purpose categories: rushing (4 TDs), kickoff return (2), receiving (1) and punt return (1.) Murphy is also one of only four players in the country with both a kickoff and punt return for a score in 2014.

A potent all-purpose back and return specialist, Murphy led the SEC in kickoff return average among player with at least 15 attempts (29.9 yards,) tied for the lead in kickoff return touchdowns, and his 82-yard punt return for a touchdown against Florida was the longest in the conference this season. He also had a kickoff return and rushing touchdown in that game, becoming the first player in Mizzou Football history to record a score in all three categories in a single game.

Mizzou’s Strong Finish

Mizzou closed out the 2014 regular season on a six-game win streak en route to their second straight SEC Eastern Division crown. During the streak, the Tigers held opponents to just 98.5 rushing yards and 281.5 yards of total offense per game. The Mizzou Football defense was one of the stingiest in the SEC this season: In conference play, Mizzou ranked first in rushing defense (115 YPG,) first in total defense (300.8 YPG,) second in scoring defense (19.1 PPG,) and second in passing defense (185.8 YPG.)

The Tigers didn’t allow an SEC opponent to gain more than 380 yards of offense in the regular season. In all, Mizzou held three opponents to their season-low total offensive output in 2014.

Additionally, Mizzou outscored opponents 101-49 in the second half during their six-game win streak, and had a +8 turnover margin. The Tigers’ ability to finish games resulted in a program-record six wins by 10 or fewer points this season. Mizzou’s hold on ball security is a big reason for that success, as they enter the Citrus Bowl ranked No. 1 in the nation in fewest fumbles lost.

Numbers to Know

  • 75 – Mizzou Football has won 75 games since the start of the 2007 season, a mark that is tied for fifth nationally.
  • 5 – Mizzou Football has won five conference division titles in the last eight seasons, including two consecutive SEC East Championships.
  • 14 – Mizzou Football has won 14 of 16 regular season SEC games over the last two years, tied for the best league mark during that span.
  • 10 – Mizzou Football has won 10 consecutive true road games dating back to last season, the third-longest active streak in the nation.
  • 7 – Mizzou Football finished the regular season topping the SEC and fifth in the nation in red zone offense at 92.7 percent. In all, Mizzou scored on 38 of 41 red zone chances this season.

Mizzou-Florida Connection

Mizzou’s trip to Orlando, Fla. for the Citrus Bowl is a homecoming for 10 Tigers who call the Sunshine State home:

WR Desean Blair – Jacksonville

OL Nate Crawford – Pensacola

TE Sean Culkin – Indian Rocks Beach

PK Luke Jackson – Pensacola

DL Rocel McWilliams – Pensacola

LB Darvin Ruise – Jacksonville

TB Trevon Walters – Bradenton

DL Spencer Williams – Jacksonville

TB Ish Witter – Tampa

QB Marvin Zanders – Jacksonville

Citrus Bowl History

The Citrus Bowl has been played in the same venue in downtown Orlando since its inception in 1947. The stadium has undergone numerous renovations and name changes since breaking ground in 1936 as a project of the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. What started as an 8,900-seat stadium has now grown into a state-of-the-art facility with a capacity of over 65,000 after its 2014 facelift. About 90 percent of the stadium was torn down and replaced between January 29 and November 19, including portions that had been standing since its original construction. Only the upper decks, which were added in 1990, remain.

The 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl will kick off at 12 p.m. CT on Thursday, January 1, 2015, and will be televised nationally by ESPN on ABC. Mizzou Football will post live updates on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook throughout the game, and fans can also listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates.

“Today is the best preparation for what tomorrow may bring.”

A star athlete doesn’t make an impressive play once. A successful business partner doesn’t make a lucky investment once. Lifelong friends didn’t keep each other’s secrets once. What do these three examples have in common? Consistency. It is crucial in performances and relationships, and it is the glue that keeps the engine running. Inconsistency will win some of the time, but consistency will win most of the time.

Consistency is the key to success. Anyone can have a good day, or even a good year, but true success is the ability to perform well day in and day out, year after year, in all conditions and situations.

Consistency is not easy. The greatest things in life never are, but it is rewarding. It requires concentration, determination, and repetition.

To be your best all of the time, you must:

  1. Take nothing for granted. If you aren’t constantly keeping track of your improvements, advice from others, and lessons learned, someone or something will easily allow you to forget progress.
  2. Take great pride in what you do. The things you do well are the things you enjoy doing. Always remember what brings you joy and you will never forget the path of excellence you are called upon. Do not allow setbacks to rob you of that joy, but press forward and find new strength and wisdom from your experiences.
  3. Take setbacks in stride. Every challenge brings you one step closer to a new experience and a newfound wisdom, and they allow you to see more of who you are and find an inner strength you never knew you had. If you allow setbacks to knock you down, you will stay down and no longer be consistent in your actions.
  4. Take calculated chances. To win something, you must risk something. Do not confuse risk with failure and inconsistency. Mankind fears failure, and oftentimes risk is associated with failure. The only way your risk could take you along a path of discouragement and inconsistency is if you choose not to see the lessons learned. If you fall down seven times, stand up eight.
  5. Take work home. To get ahead, you must plan ahead. Don’t just focus on a task during specified hours. Try to see the opportunity in a couple of extra hours during down time. Instead of watching your favorite Netflix show, work on improving and make productivity a habit for consistent preparation.
  6. Take the extra lap. Condition yourself for the hard times. The tough and tested can always take it. Consistent preparation is essential to handle difficult circumstances when they hit.
  7. Don’t take “no” for an answer. You can do what you believe you can do. When you are consistently confident, your attitude and grit will prove to others and to yourself that you can rise above any occasion.
  8. Celebrate after victory. It is important to reflect and celebrate on your successes, but also not to forget where you came from. If you let your successes go to your head, it can be tough to pull back. Celebrate and move forward, not forgetting where you came from.

As you journey along a quest for consistency, remember those eight truths. The best relationships succeed because the love did not fail in the hard times, and the greatest athletes do not quit when spectators jeer from the sidelines. When you are consistent, others will trust you. They know you will follow through, no matter what happens.

As the quote above says, “Today is the best preparation for what tomorrow may bring.” When you are consistent in the mundane, you increase your opportunities for success in life’s greatest moments.

Mizzou Football will take on Minnesota this Thursday, January 1 in the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The Tigers will celebrate their roots by taking the field in a classic road game uniform — white jerseys with anthracite and tiger stripe accents and the white ultra-lightweight pants. The look will be topped off with the matte black helmet with the traditional tiger head logo and tiger stripe down the middle.

The Mizzou Tigers wore this combination when they traveled to Gainesville on October 19 to take on the Florida Gators and when they traveled to Columbia, South Carolina on September 27 to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Mizzou earned a trip to Orlando, Florida to play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl coming off its second straight SEC East Division Championship. The bowl committee chose Mizzou over many other SEC programs for the game. Mizzou Football Head Coach Gary Pinkel feels that this is an opportunity for the Tigers to establish their name in Florida to increase recruiting.

“I think what sells your program the most is when people can come on and walk out here and watch us practice and watch us teach, watch us coach,” Pinkel said. “What sells our program is when our Florida kids — we have about a dozen now — go up to Columbia and come back to their high school coaches and let them know that Mizzou is a great place.”

Mizzou Football will take on Minnesota on Thursday, January 1 in Orlando, Florida in the newly reconstructed Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. CT and on ABC. Fans can follow Mizzou Football on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates for updates throughout the game.

Mizzou Made New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson concluded his second NFL season on a strong note, recording three tackles and one sack during New York’s victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.

Richardson posted 66 tackles with eight sacks and one forced fumble while playing all 16 games this season. Richardson is now up to 144 tackles, 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for his career. The Jets drafted Richardson in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors for his play during his rookie season.

Mizzou Made Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel also had a big day on Sunday, December 28, making the start in place of the injured Alex Smith. Daniel completed his first nine passes for 72 yards, and completed 13 of his first 17 throws, leading the Chiefs to a 19-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

Visit MUTigers.com for more updates on #MizzouMade players in the NFL.

year, the senior members of the Mizzou Football Family experience the ZOU in a bittersweet way. Every event, practice, and game is significant because it is his last. No matter if it’s the memorable senior sendoff during the final home game or team dinners, the football family makes it special.

As the senior Tigers prepare for the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., they took part in the annual tradition of final hits, where each senior gets his final hits in before the big game.

The seniors’ last hits drew the attention of the coaches and younger players, and it became a spectacle as the crowd witnessed each senior take a running start and take the final hit of practice.

Early on in the annual tradition, the seniors added their own style to their spotlight moment. The senior Tigers did everything from flips and kicks to throwing a crutch in the air.

Check GaryPinkel.com daily leading up to the bowl game for the latest posts of the 12 Days of Citrus, an exclusive inside look of the Mizzou Football Family bowl game preparations and festivities.

Mizzou Football will take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers on January 1, 2015 at 12 p.m. CT. The game will air on ABC. Fans can follow Mizzou Football on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates for updates throughout the game.

Monday, the Mizzou Football student-athletes enjoyed one of the perks of being in the 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: a Best Buy shopping spree.

The players went to one of the tech store’s locations in Orlando, Florida, the host city of the Citrus Bowl, for the spree, and were allowed to spend up to $447 each.

The Mizzou made players made use of the gift in different ways. Running back Russell Hansbrough purchased a television, wide receiver Bud Sasser purchased a GoPro camera, and center Evan Boehm purchased an Xbox One.

Check GaryPinkel.com every day leading up to the bowl game for the latest installment of the 12 Days of Citrus, an exclusive look at all things Mizzou Football leading up to the bowl game. On Tuesday, fans can get a look inside a Mizzou Football tradition: the seniors’ “last hits” day.

Mizzou Football will take on Minnesota on January 1, 2015 at 12 p.m. CT. The game will broadcast on ABC. Fans can follow Mizzou Football on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates for updates throughout the game.

Football has been preparing for the 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando over the past week, but they’re not the only ones who have been getting ready: the team’s police escorts in charge of getting the Tigers to and from different places have been preparing, too.

“It starts weeks before [they] get here,” said City of Orlando Police Department lieutenant Doug Goerke. “We figure out where [they] are going to go first and then we send out our own motor sergeants to start running routes,” Goerke said.

The officers were running routes to figure out the fastest ways to get to the different location based on traffic conditions weeks before Mizzou Football touched down in Orlando. With the game taking place during the holiday season, traffic and safety play a big role in the routes that the officers choose. They also use a technique called “leap frogging,” where they block off exits on the freeway to get to where they need to go faster.

“Getting to know the players and coaches after watching them all year is a pretty cool part about being a police escort,” said officer Kevin Williams.

The officers get decked out in Mizzou Tiger gear to assist the team, too. Their motorcycles and helmets are decorated with Mizzou Tiger stickers, and their helmets get a gold tiger stripe down the back as well. The police cars also sport Mizzou Tiger flags.

The back-to-back SEC East Division Champion Tigers will take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday, January 1 in Orlando, Florida for a shot to win the 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. CT and the game can be seen on ABC. Fans can follow Mizzou Football on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates for updates throughout the game.

Mizzou Football Family teamed up with kids on December 27 to explore Disney Quest, an indoor interactive theme park in Downtown Disney. Running back Marcus Murphy, linebacker Michael Scherer, and defensive end Markus Golden showed these kids all around Disney Quest to play games and hang out for the day, including riding a simulated roller coaster and shooting some hoops.

“He shoots better than you!” joked Murphy about Golden’s basketball skills.

Mizzou Football is staying in Orlando in preparation for the 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Their hotel is very close to Walt Disney World and Downtown Disney, which gave them the opportunity to spend a day at Disney Quest and have some fun with these kids.

Giving back to the community is very important to Mizzou Football and Head Coach Gary Pinkel. After every home win this season, Pinkel signed and auctioned off his game day visor to raise money for a local charity. Teaming up with kids for a day also represents the family atmosphere that is so important to Pinkel and the Mizzou Football Family. Just like every Mizzou Football newcomer is given a “big brother” to learn from, Murphy, Scherer, and Golden got the chance to be “big brothers” for a day to youngsters at Disney Quest.

The back-to-back SEC East Division Champion Tigers will take on Minnesota on Thursday, January 1, in Orlando, Florida in the 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. CT and the game can be seen on ABC. Fans can follow Mizzou Football on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates for updates throughout the game.

is key to every student-athlete’s success. For the Mizzou Football Family, the Mizzou nutrition team has made sure the players have everything they need to perform their best in preparation for the 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

“We packed probably 75 boxes of food in the truck for Orlando to make sure that they had some good snacks that they were used to and that they really like,” said Jana Heitmeyer, Mizzou Sports Nutrition Director.

Food was trucked down because the players have more time on their own in Orlando and do not have as many food options. The Mizzou nutrition team wanted to make sure the players have healthy food options and are eating the right things to perform their best.

“The most important meals are the before and after-practice meals,” said Heitmeyer.

The players eat breakfast in the hotel before practice, and then the Mizzou nutrition team provides the players with a lean protein meal with vegetables and carbohydrates after practice, which is important in order to have the energy to recover. The players also have snacks readily available to them so they can eat throughout the day to maintain the energy they need.

The back-to-back SEC East Division champions will take on Minnesota on Thursday, January 1, in Orlando, Florida, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. CT and the game can be seen on ABC. Fans can follow Mizzou Football on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates for updates throughout the game.

#33 Henry Josey – Minnesota Vikings Running Back — Sunday, 12:00, FOX

#56 Jacquies Smith – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive End – Sunday, 12:00, FOX

#18 Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver – Sunday, 12:00, FOX

#16 Brad Smith – Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver – Sunday, 12:00, FOX

#92 Ziggy Hood – Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive End – Sunday, 12:00, FOX

#88 Chase Coffman – Tennessee Titans Tight End – Sunday, 12:00, CBS

#50 Zaviar Gooden – Tennessee Titans Linebacker – Sunday, 12:00, CBS

#48 Beau Brinkley – Tennessee Titans Long Snapper – Sunday, 12:00, CBS

#59 Andrew Gachkar – San Diego Chargers Linebacker — Sunday, 12:00, CBS

#10 Chase Daniel – Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback – Sunday, 12:00, CBS

#91 Sheldon Richardson – New York Jets Defensive Tackle – Sunday, 12:00, CBS

#2 Blaine Gabbert – San Francisco 49ers Quarterback  – Sunday, 3:25, FOX

#94 Justin Smith – San Francisco 49ers Defensive End  – Sunday, 3:25, FOX

#99 Aldon Smith – San Francisco 49ers Linebacker – Sunday, 3:25, FOX

#99 C.J. Mosley – Detroit Lions Defensive Tackle Sunday, 3:25, FOX

#75 Dominique Hamilton – New York Giants Defensive Tackle – Sunday, 12:00, FOX

#33 E.J. Gaines – St. Louis Rams Cornerback – Sunday, 3:25, FOX

#61 Tim Barnes – St. Louis Rams Center – Sunday, 3:25, FOX

#68 Justin Britt – Seattle Seahawks Offensive Lineman – Sunday, 3:25. FOX

#94 Kony Ealy – Carolina Panthers Defensive End — Sunday, 3:25, CBS