COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team is 5-4, and with three games remaining, there are a variety of potential outcomes. The team is mathematically alive for a Big 12 Conference North title, though its chance is slim. It's also possible the team would miss a bowl for the first time since 2004.
Remember the Independence Bowl? That game in Shreveport, La., the Tigers played in two quarterbacks ago? Shreveport is also a hotbed for filming movies, and since that game, it's provided a backdrop for recent classics such as "Soul Men," "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins," and "The Longshots."
Missouri (5-4, 1-4)
at Kansas State (6-4, 4-2)
WHEN: 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM, KBXR/102.3 FM
A return trip to Shreveport is shaping up to be one likely possibility, but it's a little early for Tigers fans to plan trips to see landmarks from their favorite movies.
This season, Missouri is not bowl eligible yet. It needs at least one more win. However, if the Tigers only have six wins, getting a bowl would come with conditions. Every school in the Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) that has a winning record must receive a bowl bid before any 6-6 team can receive a bid.
Since the college football schedule was expanded to 12 games before the 2006 season, four Big 12 teams have finished a season with a 6-6 record. Three were given bowl invitations. Only the 2006 Kansas team was left out of a bowl.
During those three seasons, no Big 12 Conference team with a record of 7-5 or better has missed out on a bowl game.
If Missouri finishes 7-5 or 8-4, any of the bowls with a Big 12 affiliation could take the Tigers with no strings attached. The selection process can get complicated, given that bowls sometimes choose teams with large fan bases over teams with better records. The Big 12 has affiliations with eight bowls that choose Big 12 teams in order.
Several bowls with Big 12 affiliations are keeping tabs on Missouri. The Texas Bowl, which has the eighth selection, last among Big 12 bowls, sent a representative to Missouri’s games against Texas and Oklahoma State. The Texas Bowl will be played on Dec. 31 in Houston. It is unique among bowls because it has already arranged one of its participants. The Big 12 school that gets selected will meet Navy, an independent school that already made an agreement to play in the bowl.
The Insight Bowl, played in Tempe, Ariz., is sixth in the Big 12 selection order. It had a representative at Missouri’s games against Illinois, Colorado and Baylor.
“I’m guessing we’ll see them at least once in the last three games,” president and CEO John Junker said. “Probably we’ll see them at least three or four times this year in the regular season. And if someone can explain the Big 12 North to us, we would be very grateful.”
Junker mentioned that the Insight Bowl is watching other Big 12 schools besides Missouri.
“A lot depends on what happens ahead of us,” Junker said. “But Missouri’s a team that we’re watching, and we think well of their program and the good things the coach has done there. We’re dialed in and watching closely.”
Another bowl that is considering Missouri has prior experience with the Tigers. The Independence Bowl is held in Shreveport, La., and hosted Missouri in 2003 and 2005. It picks seventh in the Big 12 bowl order, behind the Insight Bowl but ahead of the Texas Bowl. Chairwoman Toni Goodin attended Missouri’s game at Oklahoma State.
“We know that their fans travel very well,” Goodin said. “It was a great experience when they were here before. And they just have a great staff and athletic department, and we know they would be a good fit if they fall into our mix in a couple weeks.”
BIG 12 NORTH CHANCES
Missouri's shot at winning the Big 12 North requires several thing to happen.
- Missouri must win all its remaining games against Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas to put the Tigers at 4-4 in Big 12 play.
- Kansas State must also lose to Nebraska, putting the Wildcats at 4-4 in conference play.
- Nebraska must only beat Kansas State. It must lose to Kansas and Colorado to put the Huskers at 4-4 in Big 12 play.
- Colorado must beat Nebraska and win one more game. Missouri needs Colorado to beat Oklahoma State or Iowa State, but not both. This would make the Buffaloes 4-4 in conference play.
- Missouri needs Colorado to get involved and make it a four-team tiebreaker.
In the first three portions of this scenario, a three-way tie among Missouri, Kansas State and Nebraska would go to Nebraska because of the Huskers’ win against Missouri and hypothetical win against Kansas State. But with a four-team tiebreaker, Missouri’s 4-1 record in Big 12 North play would give it the edge in the four-way tie.