COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team doesn’t play Saturday. That doesn’t mean this weekend will be without drama.
The team will find out Sunday night which bowl game has extended an invitation. Speculation has centered on the team playing in the Insight Bowl, but nothing will be known for certain until Sunday.
This game in El Paso, Texas, seems more interested in Oklahoma or Texas Tech, but is also considering Missouri.
Missouri and Iowa State are the prime contenders to play against a Big Ten opponent in Tempe, Ariz.
Missouri played in this game in Shreveport, La., in 2003 and 2005. A third trip is possible, but Iowa State and Texas A&M are also being considered.
Navy has already committed to play a Big 12 team in Houston. The Texas Bowl has the last choice among Big 12 bowls, so it won't get a choice in picking its team.
Tony Alba cautions people about jumping to conclusions from what they read on the Internet. Alba, the media relations director for the Insight Bowl, said both Missouri and Iowa State are in the mix for the game, which chooses sixth in the Big 12’s bowl hierarchy.
Alba said the Insight Bowl’s representatives last held a formal meeting on Sunday, when both Missouri’s and Iowa State’s credentials were discussed. He said research would be done this week on estimating how many fans each team would bring. The committee will meet again this Sunday and make a final decision, with Missouri and Iowa State being prime contenders for the Big 12 invitation. The Insight Bowl also invites a Big Ten school. The game is played on Dec. 31 in Tempe, Ariz.
Missouri athletic department spokesman Chad Moller said Missouri is reaching out to the Sun, Insight, Independence and Texas Bowls with information promoting the Tigers. Moller said the Sun and Independence bowls are less likely for Missouri because the team has played in those games so recently. Missouri played in the Sun Bowl after the 2006 season and in the Independence Bowl after the 2003 and 2005 seasons.
The Sun Bowl has the pick immediately before the Insight Bowl. Football Selection Chairman John Folmer said it is considering Missouri along with Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas A&M also being front-runners. The game on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas, brings in a Pac 10 team to play the Big 12 representative.
Folmer said that, all things being equal, the Sun Bowl would prefer a team that has not been to the bowl recently. He said maintaining variety helps keep interest high with fans in the El Paso area. He listed Oklahoma and Texas Tech as more likely participants instead of Missouri.
The Independence Bowl chooses after the Insight Bowl. The Independence Bowl is held Dec. 28 in Shreveport, La. Bowl chairwoman Toni Goodin said Missouri’s previous appearances wouldn’t count against it. She lists a high number of Missouri alumni within driving distance of Shreveport as a plus for the Tigers.
“We’ve talked to their athletic department already,” she said. “And they brought a lot of people the first time.”
Goodin lists Missouri, Iowa State and Texas A&M as the primary contenders to play in the Independence Bowl against a team from the SEC.
The Texas Bowl, played on Dec. 31 in Houston, chooses after the Independence Bowl. The game is eighth in the Big 12’s bowl hierarchy and the conference has eight bowl-eligible teams this season. If the BCS takes one Big 12 team, the Texas Bowl will take the last Big 12 bowl-eligible school. If the BCS takes two teams, the Texas Bowl will have to find an at-large team from another conference.