BOULDER, Colo. — Missouri seemed headed to a destination unknown. With big wins against Nebraska and Texas Tech, it appeared that destination could be one the Tigers had not seen in a long time.
MU dreamed of partying at the Fiesta Bowl or heading to Miami for the Orange Bowl. Those dreams might have ended on Folsom Field on Saturday with a stunning 21-16 loss to Colorado.
After the win against Texas Tech, coach Gary Pinkel emphasized to his team the importance of not letting the bowl hopes get to them. Pinkel’s efforts might not have been enough for Missouri to win, though.
MU fell to 6-3 and 2-3 in the Big 12 Conference, and dropped out of the Associated Press rankings.
With representatives from the Independence and Tangerine Bowls in attendance, MU had four turnovers, including quarterback Brad Smith’s two uncharacteristic fumbles. His fumble at the Colorado goal line with 1:49 left in the second quarter cost the Tigers a chance at a lead and the momentum.
The representatives couldn’t have been impressed with Missouri’s performance, but they might have to get used to the idea of the Tigers playing in their games. Kansas State and Nebraska won, pushing MU down in the Big 12 standings and hurting its chances for an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game.
Russ Bell said the loss is worse because the Tigers had a chance to make their bowl dreams come true.
“It hurts real bad,” Bell said. “We were in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 North and now we’re not. Now, we are just another team.”
If Missouri wins the rest of its games, it is still possible to end up in the championship game, but it needs the Cornhuskers to lose one of their remaining games. A Nebraska loss coupled with a Tigers win against the Kansas State would put the Tigers in Kansas City.
The Tigers have a reasonable shot to win the rest of their games, with a schedule that includes games against Texas A&M, Kansas State and Iowa State. Only the Wildcats have a winning record and the Aggies are coming off a 77-0 loss to Oklahoma.
More likely bowl games for MU now include the Alamo, Independence, Houston and Tangerine bowls.
Instead of worrying about where his team might be in December or January, though, Pinkel said Missouri needs to focus on each of its remaining games.
Outside safety Dedrick Harrington said the Tigers’ bowl destination is the least of his concerns.
“The bowl is not a big deal right now,” Harrington said. “We have to start winning games and being more consistent. I could care less about a bowl game right now, because obviously we aren’t getting things done.”