MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The preparations started last week as the Gopher football team departed for a date in Orlando, and a bit of a mission.

“There’s no question. We win the game playing a Southeast Conference opponent on national T.V. on Jan. 1, not only does it get our state excited and our fans, but that’s the next step in recruiting,” coach Kill said of the Citrus Bowl match.

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Make no mistake, a trip to the tropical in late December is welcome.

You can’t beat the heat.

But in Orlando, Wednesday became about the game – the reason they are here.

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“I really feel good about our players. They have practiced really hard. We’ve had excellent practices. Yesterday we were very sharp. So, we feel good about going in,” Kill said.

And the team waiting for the Gophers, Missouri, they are the favorites.

So, all the sudden it’s the reality. This is now about a football game

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“Everybody wants to finish. Minnesota wants to finish; they’ve had a great year. We want it,” Gary Pinkel, head coach for Missouri, said. “This is a very important game for us.”