MU football team could be passed over again for top bowls

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | 9:51 p.m. CST; updated 8:24 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 5, 2010

COLUMBIA — Bowl selection in the Big 12 Conference is a political game, one the Missouri football team usually loses. The Tigers look poised to lose again in 2010, even after a 10-win season.

Texas A&M announced Tuesday that it had accepted a bid to the 2011 Cotton Bowl. The Aggies, with a 9-3 record that included a loss to Missouri, leapfrogged the Tigers, Oklahoma State and the loser of this week's Big 12 championship game for a berth in the bowl. The Aggies will take on an SEC opponent, the likeliest being Alabama or LSU.

Missouri bowl history

 1924 Christmas Festival vs. USC
L 20-7, Attendance: 47,000

1940 Orange Bowl vs. Georgia Tech
L 21-7, Attendance: 36,500

1942 Sugar Bowl vs. Fordham
L 2-0, Attendance: 72,000

1946 Cotton Bowl vs. Texas
L 40-27, Attendance: 46,000

1949 Gator Bowl vs. Clemson
L 24-23, Attendance: 35,273

1950 Gator Bowl vs. Maryland
L 20-7, Attendance: 22,000

1960 Orange Bowl vs. Georgia
L 14-0, Attendance: 75,280

1961 Orange Bowl vs. Navy
W 21-14, Attendance: 71,218

1962 Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Georgia Tech
W 14-10, Attendance: 55,000

1966 Sugar Bowl vs. Florida
W 20-18, Attendance: 67,421

1968 Gator Bowl vs. Alabama
W 35-10, Attendance: 68,001

1970 Orange Bowl vs. Penn State
L 10-3, Attendance: 78,282

1972 Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona State
L 49-35, Attendance: 51,318

1973 Sun Bowl vs. Auburn
W 34-17, Attendance: 30,127

1978 Liberty Bowl vs. LSU
W 20-15, Attendance: 53,064

1979 Hall Of Fame Bowl vs. South Carolina
W 24-14, Attendance: 62,785

1980 Liberty Bowl vs. Purdue
L 28-25, Attendance: 53,667

1981 Tangerine Bowl vs. Southern Mississippi
W 19-17, Attendance: 50,450

1983 Holiday Bowl vs. BYU
L 21-27, Attendance: 51,480

1997 Holiday Bowl vs. Colorado State
L 35-24, Attendance: 50,761

1998 Insight Bowl vs. West Virginia
W 34-31, Attendance: 36,147

2003 Independence Bowl vs. Arkansas
L 27-14, Attendance: 49,625

2005 Independence Bowl vs.South Carolina
W 38-31, Attendance: 41,332

2006 Sun Bowl vs. Oregon State
L 39-38, Attendance: 48,732

2007 Cotton Bowl vs. Arkansas
W 38-7, Attendance: 73,114

2008 Alamo Bowl vs. Northwestern
W 30-23, Attendance: 55,986

2009 Texas Bowl vs. Navy
L 35-13, Attendance: 69,441

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The winner of the Big 12 Championship game will play as the Big 12's representative in the Fiesta Bowl. BCS No. 3 TCU, No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Arkansas have each finished their regular seasons, leaving no other spots for Big 12 teams in any of the four remaining BCS bowls.

Texas A&M going to the Cotton Bowl leaves three teams — Missouri, Oklahoma State and the loser of the Big 12 championship game — for three of the Big 12's best remaining bowls — the Alamo, Insight and Holiday. 

The Alamo Bowl will have first selection among the bowls, and for a game that has struggled with attendance, Missouri would be a longshot to go to San Antonio. The Tigers played in the Alamo Bowl in 2008, against Northwestern, and that game only drew 55,986 fans, almost 10,000 less than the Alamodome's capacity. 

“One of toughest, most challenging years in memory,” Rick Hill, vice president of marketing and communications for the Alamo Bowl, told the San Antonio Express-News in 2008.

The Alamo Bowl will likely pass on another challenge, instead looking to the loser of the Big 12 Conference championship game, either Oklahoma or Nebraska. Both are historically strong programs with historically strong fan bases. If Oklahoma loses to Nebraska, the Alamo Bowl would be ecstatic. The Sooners have not played in the Alamo Bowl before, and San Antonio's close proximity to the Oklahoma fan base would be too good to pass up.

If the Sooners win on Saturday and head to the Fiesta Bowl, the Alamo Bowl will chose between Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Missouri. If it comes to that, the decision becomes tougher for the Alamo Bowl committee, but the Tigers are still likely to be passed over.

Nebraska has played in the Alamo Bowl three times in the past decade, and attendance for those games hasn't been stellar, averaging just shy of 60,000. Oklahoma State played in the 2004 Alamo Bowl, and its fan base helped sell out the dome. 

The Alamo Bowl pits a Big 12 opponent against the Pac-10's No. 2 team, but with Stanford in line for a BCS bowl, that No. 2 team will either be Arizona (7-4) or Washington (6-6). Neither school has a strong traveling fan base or is attractive to third-party fans, meaning that the Alamo Bowl will likely go for the guarantee draw. In this case, that means Oklahoma State.

When Missouri and Nebraska go against each other, things usually go against the Tigers. Whether it is Nebraska's 65-36-3 record against Missouri on the football field, the Cornhuskers being chosen to go to the Big Ten conference or the 2010 Insight Bowl.

The Insight Bowl is newly flush with cash thanks to a new television contract with ESPN and now has a higher priority in bowl selection. A historically great program like Nebraska would bring credibility to a bowl on the up, leaving Missouri to be snatched up by the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

If it comes down to Missouri or Oklahoma State for the Insight Bowl, a coin flip would be best served in making the decision. Both teams have elite players and both challenged for BCS bowls this season, but both bring attendance question marks for the Tempe, Ariz.-based bowl. If choosing based solely on BCS ranking, Missouri has the upper hand, but Oklahoma State went to the 2007 Insight bowl and drew a then-record attendance. 

Mike Alden, the Missouri Athletics Department and the Big 12 Conference have the rest of the week to prove that at 10-2 team is not the fifth-best team in the Big 12. But the way it looks now, that's what they could be when the team gathers to announce their bowl bid at 6 p.m. on Sunday.


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Ellis Smith December 1, 2010 | 10:43 a.m.

A more aggressive pre-conference schedule might improve bowl prospects. Playing the equivalent of "Little Sisters of the Poor" for your first four seasonal games does little for your BCS ratings.

Many perennial football powers typically play at least one of their pre-conference games against another serious non-conference foe.

Welshing on commitments to play against first UCLA and then Iowa in the past doesn't do much for your BCS reputation either. Don't think folks in Los Angeles and Iowa City have forgotten about that. Rest assured they have not. Whether the latter had any bearing on your not being invited to join the Big Ten Conference is problematical.

(Report Comment)
John Lyman December 1, 2010 | 1:00 p.m.

Playing in the Big 12, Big Ten, or SEC, you don't need, and don't want to play big/better teams in your non-conference schedule. If Alabama or Oregon had scheduled harder games in their first 4-5 weeks, they may have a loss already, and wouldn't even be in the running for the National Championship.

Getting 4 wins under your belt before you start your conference games is important to getting to that 6-win plateau that "guarantees" a bowl game. All teams do it.

What is hurting us this year is: 1) Missouri doesn't travel well, it's an unfortunate fact, and bowls are about making money; 2) Nebraska is leaving for the Big 10 next year, so bowls who have Big 12 ties have 1 last shot to take a team they know travels well; and 3) the resurgence of Texas A&M in the last 5-6 weeks pretty much meant that our win against them didn't end up meaning anything when it comes to bowl selection order.

Had we played (and beaten) Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas, South Carolina in the first 4-5 games of the year, or had Illinois ended up having a significantly better year, it wouldn't have made any difference which bowl we would go to.

(Report Comment)
J Guy December 3, 2010 | 4:45 p.m.

Ellis... Did you know that Missouri played the seventh toughtest schedule in the nation this year? Its non-conferecne schedule was among the toughtest in the nation. Illinois, SD State and Miami (OH) are all bowl eligible.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear December 3, 2010 | 7:34 p.m.

The BCS rules, decide the last spot.

Missouri won't get a BCS Bowl this year, geez, there are only five of them.

Still, they should pick up a few more BCS points when Oklahoma beats Nebraska Saturday night in the Big 12 Championship game. That might get them a little more money in their bowl game.

The known BCS teams will be Pac 10 Oregon and Stanford, SEC Auburn and Arkansas, Big 10 Wisconsin and Ohio State, then the Big 12, Big East, and ACC winner.

That only leaves one spot.

Then the BCS rules kick in, and here are the important ones:

* The highest-ranked champion of a non-BCS conference will receive an automatic berth if:
* It is ranked in the top 12, or
* Ranked in the top 16 and higher than at least one BCS conference champion.
* No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year. However, a second team from one of these conferences may qualify as a BCS at-large.

Boise State is ranked 11th in the current BCS, I can't see them dropping below 12. It will end up ranked in front of at least two conference champions, maybe three...The Big 12, if Nebraska beats Oklahoma, and certainly the ACC whether Florida State or Virginia Tech wins, and most certainly over the Big East champ (the Big East doesn't deserve a BCS Bowl this year).

Teams like Missouri, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, and LSU are screwed because of their standing in their conferences. But, we will see.

One thing is for sure, there is only one spot left open for a BCS bowl bid.

If Boise State doesn't get it (and I don't think they should), the last bid should go to Oklahoma State or Michigan State.

(Report Comment)
Kyle Brynsvold December 3, 2010 | 9:31 p.m.

Yves, in your final scenario, I think you forgot TCU, which is guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl by virtue of Oregon (most likely) going to the national championship. So the BCS, assuming we have no upsets this week, will look like this:

National Championship: Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: TCU vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs. Big 12 Champion
Orange Bowl: Big East Champion vs. ACC Champion
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 4, 2010 | 12:52 a.m.


South Dakota State, huh. We (a Division II football team) played a game against South Dakota State [then a Division IAA football team] at Brookings, South Dakota. In the end we got drubbed, but we managed to hang with them for the entire first half, much to the dismay of their coaches and home crowd.

Later that season we played another Division IAA team, from Kentucky. By the end of that game more than 100 total points had been scored! It was like watching arena football without having an arena. [Then]President Elson Floyd was present. (That same Saturday the Tigers lost to Colorado at Boulder).

That year both University of Missouri football teams finished 7-4. Two of our wins were against Division IAA teams. We haven't equaled that since, and it could be a while before we do.

(Report Comment)
Walter Lane December 5, 2010 | 9:08 a.m.

At the end of the day, 1-2 play for the title, 3-10 play for the BCS bowls. That would be the only true fair way to do it. Then we wouldn't have so much whining. Really starting to get sick of hearing it. Then that way teams know what they have to do to make it to the big games. End of story.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 5, 2010 | 12:17 p.m.

Or you could install a playoff system, as is used for Division IAA and Division II. That system may also be in use for Division III as well.

Division III includes some of America's most classy academic schools: University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, St. Olaf, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, etc. There are no athletic scholarships! Some of those teams could easily be beaten by most any Texas high school football team, but who cares?

(Report Comment)
Walter Lane December 5, 2010 | 2:54 p.m.

Yes but we know they will never install a playoff for division 1 barring some odd miracle. And until they do 1-2 for the title, 2-10 for the BCS bowls.

(Report Comment)

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