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Columbia Missourian

Earning bowl eligibility no easy task for Missouri football team

By Richard Fernandez
October 19, 2012 | 7:11 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — There is not much optimism surrounding the Missouri football team right now.

During the first quarter against Alabama, the Tigers had six yards to go on a third down. Quarterback Corbin Berkstresser completed a pass to receiver T.J. Moe for a first down.

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After the play, instead of showing first down and 10 yards to go, the Memorial Stadium scoreboard showed fourth and six.

Even the scoreboard operator had given up on the Tigers.

Missouri is 3-4 on the season and has yet to win a game in the Southeastern Conference. For most, the season will already go down as a disappointment.

The team still hopes to turn things around by reaching a bowl game. Playing in a bowl game is hardly a momentous achievement, especially if it's a game like the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl.

But this season, the Tigers would be happy to make another trip to Shreveport, La. for the Independence Bowl, which is a game they have played three times in the last nine years. 

Missouri will need to win at least three more games for a chance to extend its streak of bowl game appearances to seven straight seasons. That means the Tigers have to win at least once on the road against an SEC team. Here's a look at this season's remaining opponents:

Kentucky 1-6 (0-4 SEC) Oct. 27

If the Tigers don't get their first SEC win in this game, they might have to wait until next season. Kentucky's lone win this season came against Gary Pinkel's alma mater, Kent State.

at Florida 6-0 (5-0 SEC) Nov. 3

Heading into the eighth week of college football, the Florida Gators are ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25. So far this season, Missouri has played three teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll and lost by an average score of 38 to 13.33.

at Tennessee 3-3 (0-3 SEC) Nov. 10

Tennessee, like Missouri, has played three ranked teams and failed to win every time. But the Tigers will have to play at Neyland Stadium, which has a capacity of 102,037.

Syracuse 2-4 (1-1 Big East) Nov. 17

Missouri can keep its non-conference record clean with a win against Syracuse. While the Tigers have not won a conference game yet, they did find ways to win games against non-conference Arizona State and Central Florida.

at Texas A&M 5-1 (2-1 SEC) Nov. 24

Thanks to scheduling madness caused by conference realignment, this will be the third year in a row that Missouri will travel to College Station, Texas. The Tigers beat the Aggies in two previous meetings, but Texas A&M is a very different team this season under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin.