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Missouri's bowl possibilities still confusing

Friday, November 27, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team is 7-4. It has won its past two games, improving its reputation with bowls. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it is going to a bowl game. Still, which bowl game it will go to remains in question. Bowl invitations will begin to be announced the night of Dec. 6, the day after the Big 12 Conference championship game.

Should Missouri beat Kansas and finish 8-4, the Alamo Bowl, in San Antonio, would seem to be a good fit. But Missouri played in the Alamo Bowl last season and played in the Big 12 Championship game in San Antonio in 2007. A return trip to the Alamo Bowl might be unlikely given that the bowl would prefer a fresh team that might generate more interest from residents of the San Antonio area. Let’s hope the dolphins at SeaWorld won’t miss Sean Weatherspoon too much.

The Big 12 has affiliations with a variety of bowls. The first choice goes to the Bowl Championship Series. It is obligated to take the Big 12 champion and can also take a second Big 12 team into one of its five bowls if it so chooses. After the BCS chooses, the Cotton Bowl is next in line.

Missouri’s bowl fate could depend heavily on if the BCS takes two Big 12 teams or just one. If Texas wins the Big 12 championship, Oklahoma State could be a potential choice for a second BCS invitation. Oklahoma State finishes its season Saturday at Oklahoma.

If Nebraska upsets Texas in the Big 12 championship, Texas would be a likely choice for an at-large bid to a BCS bowl.

Should the BCS take two teams, that would likely push the Big 12’s bowl-eligible teams up one in the selection order.

The Holiday Bowl might consider Missouri. It is held in San Diego and chooses third in the Big 12 hierarchy, behind the Cotton Bowl. Bruce Binkowski, the bowl’s executive director, said beating Kansas is a must for Missouri to be considered for an invitation.

“If they finish 8-4, they’re certainly in our sights,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest down here for Nebraska. And as the Big 12 North champions that’s something that we’re certainly taking a look at. And Texas Tech would also be in our picture. Probably a super-long shot Oklahoma, but they’d have to beat Oklahoma State, but even then, I don’t know how they’d be there.”

Binkowski said the bowl has never chosen a team based on the attendance it would generate, always choosing based on game results. That makes Nebraska’s 27-12 victory over the Tigers a hurdle for Missouri if the Huskers are available for the Holiday Bowl.

The Holiday Bowl also invites a Pac 10 team. If Oregon loses to Oregon State, Oregon is guaranteed a trip to the Holiday Bowl. If Oregon wins that game on Dec. 3, the bowl could choose among any Pac 10 teams tied for second. That tie could go as many as five ways.

The next bowl to choose among Big 12 teams is the Alamo Bowl, held in San Antonio.

“Obviously, they’re (Missouri) a hot team and winning their way out is going to deserve consideration,” said Rick Hill, vice president of marketing. “It’s the just the fact that it’s back-to-back years with both games, I think we’d have to see how the teams more in our mix do this weekend.”

Hill said Nebraska, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Oklahoma were also being heavily considered for the game. The Alamo Bowl brings in a Big Ten team to play the Big 12 representative, and Hill said Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan State are likely candidates for the game. He said Missouri would still be considered for the game, especially if it finishes 8-4, but the previous trips would make them a harder sell.

Missouri played in the Sun Bowl, held in El Paso, Texas, in 2006. The bowl chooses after the Alamo Bowl. Football selection chairman John Folmer said the bowl will likely invite Southern California or California to play its Big 12 team.

Folmer said it is difficult to project which Big 12 team his bowl will take until he knows if the BCS takes one or two Big 12 teams. He lists Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas A&M as prime contenders to take the Big 12 invitation. Folmer said he thinks there is a strong possibility Missouri will be off the board before his bowl chooses.

“We’re thinking they’re gone,” he said.

The Insight Bowl is held in Tempe, Ariz, and chooses after the Sun Bowl. Like the Alamo Bowl, it matches a Big 12 team with a Big Ten team. Like the Alamo Bowl, Michigan State and Minnesota are the two likely contenders to play in the game against a Big 12 school. President and CEO John Junker said Missouri is on the Insight Bowl’s radar.

He also said the Insight Bowl is considering a large group of Big 12 teams because it cannot forecast who will be available by the time it chooses.

Junker lists Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Iowa State and Oklahoma as other possibilities to take the Big 12 invitation to the Insight Bowl.

“It’s kind of an inexact science,” Junker said. “And I think lots of people are waiting on what happens with Oklahoma-Oklahoma State on a number of bowl pictures.”

The next bowl to choose after the Insight Bowl is the Independence Bowl, which Missouri played in after the 2003 and 2005 seasons.

“We would love Missouri,” chairwoman Toni Goodin said. “But, really and truthfully, I think they’re going to play their way out of our mix.”

 


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