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Missouri 33, Minnesota 17: Tigers take Citrus Bowl with toughness early, big plays late

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Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy rushed 27 times for 271 yards as Missouri outlasted Minnesota, 33-17, in the 2015 Citrus Bowl.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

As advertised, the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl was sloppy and physical. As it turned out, Missouri handled the sloppiness and physicality better than Minnesota and took home a 33-17 win because of it.

The game was defined by line play, and while that meant awful things for the Tigers in the first quarter, Mizzou controlled the line of scrimmage for the final three quarters. David Cobb rushed 21 times for only 81 yards, while Mizzou's Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy combined for an incredible 271 yards on 27 carries. Hansbrough scored on a 78-yard run to give Mizzou a 26-17 lead, and Murphy went 69 yards to set up the final score.

Minnesota was able to keep things close because of a lovely passing day from quarterback Mitch Leidner. But Mizzou was able to win the turnover battle, wear down Minnesota's defensive front, and gash the Gophers with big plays in the fourth quarter. The score was 19-17 heading into the fourth quarter, then Missouri took over.

Maty Mauk threw two early interceptions and hurt himself on a delicious, rugged touchdown run in the third quarter. But he found Bud Sasser seven times for 68 yards and two key touchdowns -- one close to halftime, and one to give the Tigers a 16-point lead with five minutes left. The run game did the rest of the work.

For the first time in its history, Missouri has won at least 11 games for two consecutive seasons. In 2013, the Tigers did it with experience and athleticism. In 2014, they did it with grit, duct tape, and one hell of a defensive front. Dave Steckel's final game as defensive coordinator was a success, and Gary Pinkel's best in-season coaching job finished with a seventh win in eight games. Handshakes all around.

Commence celebration thread.