Missouri awaits, debates bowl fate

Monday, December 1, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:09 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

There is some dissension among the Missouri football players.

It isn’t bickering over playing time or touches, and it isn’t anything personal, but many Tigers have differing opinions on where they want to spend their holidays. That kind of disagreement is probably fine with coach Gary Pinkel because it means his team is going to a bowl for the first time since 1998.

Pinkel said he hasn’t had a chance to think about the bowl scenarios, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t heard about them.

“If my wife wouldn’t keep jamming me with them, I wouldn’t have known any of them,” Pinkel said. “For the most part, my focus has been on winning eight football games.”

With eight wins in the books for the Tigers, a couple of possibilities remain. Nothing is certain until after No. 1 Oklahoma plays No. 13 Kansas State in the Big 12 Conference championship game Saturday.

Nothing is set in stone, but after MU’s 45-7 win against Iowa State on Saturday, there is a strong chance the Tigers will end up in Shreveport, La., for the Independence Bowl.

The Independence Bowl has the fifth choice of Big 12 teams after the Bowl Championship Series makes its selections and has been at almost every Missouri game for the past six weeks.

Many MU players gave different reasons for their bowl of choice, but defensive tackle Russ Bell had something simpler on his mind than the opponent or city.

“I don’t care as long as I get a tan for Christmas,” Bell said. “I can get a tan just about anywhere. Any bowl works for me.”

An Oklahoma win would send the Sooners to the Sugar Bowl to play for the national championship.

Texas is in the top six of the BCS standings, and if it stays there, and the Sooners win, the Longhorns would earn a BCS bowl bid.

That would move every Big 12 team up a notch in the bowl selection process. If this happens, Oklahoma State would most likely go to the Cotton Bowl, Nebraska to the Holiday Bowl and Kansas State to the Alamo Bowl.

That would leave the Tigers in Shreveport for the New Year’s Eve showdown with a Southeastern Conference opponent, most likely Arkansas or Auburn.

Receiver Darius Outlaw, who is from Powder Springs, Ga., said it would be fun to play any team from the conference he watched as a kid.

“I wanna play the ‘Dawgs,” Outlaw said. “I would love to play an SEC school because I grew up watching SEC football.”

A few scenarios could shake things up and send MU somewhere else. If the Wildcats beat Oklahoma, that could cause a big change in where many teams go or it could change nothing.

In this scenario, the Sooners would probably get a Sugar Bowl bid anyway, but Kansas State would take Texas’ BCS spot, sending the Longhorns into one of the other conference-affiliated bowls.

The Cotton Bowl would then most likely take Texas and leave Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Missouri to divide among the Holiday, Alamo and Independence bowls.

Holiday Bowl representatives could pass on the Cornhuskers because of the firing of coach Frank Solich and uncertainty surrounding the team.

If that were to happen, Missouri could end up in San Diego. That scenario seems unlikely, though, leaving the Tigers in limbo for another week.

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