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.
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
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.