COLUMBIA — Two weeks ago, Missouri was firmly in national championship contention. Two losses later, the Tigers are reeling and no longer part of the BCS conversation.
While the Tigers might be disappointed in missing out on a BCS bowl, they will still be playing in a bowl this season. Now the question is, which one?
Kansas State (6-3, 3-3 Big 12)
at No. 20 Missouri (7-2, 3-2 Big 12)
WHEN: 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium
RADIO: KTGER/1580 AM, KCMQ/96.7 FM
TV: Fox Sports Net
MU coach Gary Pinkel is 4-5 vs. Kansas State and 1-5 vs. KSU coach Bill Snyder, who is 14-4 against Missouri overall.
The Big 12 Conference has eight bowl affiliations, and those bowls have a hierarchy for picking teams. The Fiesta Bowl, whose committee has the first choice among Big 12 teams, will take the Big 12 champion if that team is not in the national championship game. Barring any unforeseen chaos, the Big 12 will not have a representative in the national championship. And with Nebraska defeating Missouri, and Missouri's subsequent loss to Texas Tech, the Tigers' chances of playing for the Big 12 championship — and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl — are slim.
That leaves seven other bowls that can choose the Tigers. So where will Missouri end up? Given the current standings, we take a look, bowl by bowl:
Cotton Bowl: The Cotton Bowl has second choice in the Big 12 bowl selection order. In the past five years, the Cotton Bowl has selected either the loser of the Big 12 Championship game (2006 Nebraska, 2007 Missouri) or the second-best team in the Big 12 South (2005, 2008 Texas Tech, 2009 Oklahoma State). With high likelihood that only one Big 12 team will play in a BCS bowl, this trend should continue. Missouri, currently ranked fourth amongst Big 12 teams in the BCS rankings, would need to win its remaining regular season games to have a shot to play in the Cotton Bowl. But the Tigers would need the teams ahead of them — Oklahoma, Nebraska and Oklahoma State — to lose games. Missouri could play in the Cotton Bowl, but it's a longshot.
Alamo Bowl: The Alamo Bowl has the third pick. Missouri played in this bowl in 2008 with a 9-4 record. Over the past five seasons the Alamo Bowl has selected teams that have won more than eight games. Missouri has a 7-2 record with three regular-season games remaining. With two more victories, the Tigers would go to the Alamo Bowl, right? Not so fast. Three Big 12 teams have higher BCS ratings than Missouri and are ranked higher in the AP poll than the Tigers. If Missouri's fourth-best-in-the-Big-12 ranking remains static, the Alamo Bowl will likely pass on the Tigers.
Insight Bowl: This bowl is fourth on the bowl-selection list, and, as of today, is Missouri's most likely destination. In the past five seasons, the Insight Bowl has selected Big 12 teams with only seven wins. But after agreeing to a new television contract with ESPN, the bowl, which had the seventh selection in previous years, moved up. The Tigers and their high BCS ranking would be a nice upgrade for the newly cash-laden bowl.
Holiday Bowl: The San Diego-based bowl is now fifth in the selection order. In the past four years, every Big 12 representative in the Holiday Bowl has come in with a 9-4 record. If the Tigers lose only one more game, they would end the regular season with a 9-3 record and would have a good shot of visiting the west coast. But if Missouri wins the rest of its regular season games, the Holiday Bowl will likely not have a chance to select the Tigers.
Texas Bowl: The Tigers played in the 2009 Texas Bowl, entering the game with an 8-4 record. The Tigers lost that game to Navy 35-13. The Texas Bowl is sixth in the selection order, and Missouri would likely have to lose another regular season game to fall to the Houston-played bowl for a second consecutive year.
Pinstripe Bowl: The Big 12 has two new bowls, and one of those is the Pinstripe Bowl. Played in New York's Yankee Stadium, the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl will be the first bowl game played in New York City since 1962 when Nebraska played Miami in the Gotham Bowl. The Pinstripe Bowl has the seventh selection of Big 12 teams, meaning the Tigers would have to lose regular-season games to be selected for this bowl.
TicketCity Bowl: For a while this bowl was named the Dallas Football Classic. Played on New Year's Day in the Cotton Bowl, the TicketCity bowl was created to fill the void left by the Cotton Bowl, which moved from the aptly-named Cotton Bowl to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and from New Year's Day to Jan. 7. The Ticket City Bowl is the last-chance of Big 12 bowls, meaning something would have to go terribly wrong for Missouri to play in this bowl.