It’s a three-horse race for a prize that might not be there at the finish line.
The Alamo Bowl in San Antonio now has three teams it’s seriously considering for selection. Kansas State, Texas Tech and Missouri are the three teams on the bowl’s wish list.
After repeatedly saying last week that the Wildcats and Red Raiders were clearly the teams the bowl was focusing on, the Tigers’ impressive 42-17 victory against a bowl-eligible Kansas team put Missouri back in the conversation Monday morning. At 8-4 overall, Missouri is one game better than K-State and Texas Tech in the standings and beat both teams handily. But Alamo Bowl spokesman Rick Hill said as of Monday the Wildcats and Red Raiders were still more likely to be selected than the Tigers to play against Iowa on Dec. 30.
“We’ll use this week to talk to the athletic departments at MU, K-State and Tech,” Hill said. “Missouri definitely has a longer road to get here, but if all three bring similar numbers we’ll have to look at other factors.”
Familiarity is one of those factors that goes against Missouri. Kansas State played in the bowl in 1998 in an epic game against Purdue, and Texas Tech played there in 1996 and 2001. The amount of tickets a team can sell is a bigger factor for the Alamo Bowl this year because it is without a title sponsor, which then forces the bowl to shoulder more of the costs.
But in one of the strange idiosyncrasies of the bowl season, the fans might have the most impact on where their respective schools go. Hill said the bowl officials will call each of the three athletic departments each day this week to find out how many fans have pre-ordered tickets for the game.
“The best thing ticket holders can do now is pre-order tickets,” Hill said. “You’re going to a bowl anyway, and we’ll take a serious look at those numbers and match them up with the interest of our local fans.”
But it might not matter.
That whole scenario is contingent upon the Gator Bowl jumping in and taking one of the top-four Big 12 teams, something the bowl is obligated to do two of the next four seasons. Repeated calls to Gator Bowl officials were not returned.
Sun Bowl president John Folmer, though, said that as of Sunday, Gator Bowl officials told him they were leaning toward taking a Big East team because they thought they could get an 11-1 team. The only team that would fit that scenario would be Louisville if it defeats Connecticut on Saturday. Rutgers could finish 11-1 with a victory at West Virginia to close its season but would go to a BCS bowl as the Big East Champions.
Should the Gator Bowl pick a Big East team, that would drop either Texas, Texas A&M, or the loser of Oklahoma-Nebraska to the Alamo Bowl and one of those teams would almost certainly be selected to play in San Antonio.
“Texas would be hard to pass up,” Hill said. “They’ve never been here before and would certainly bring a lot of fans.”
Where would that leave Missouri?
“We’ll take Missouri in all probability in that scenario,” Folmer said of his Dec. 29 bowl in El Paso, Texas.
With Texas Tech already playing in El Paso this season against UTEP, and Missouri beating the Red Raiders on the road, Folmer said the Sun Bowl was excited about the possibility of seeing the Tigers. Oregon State, from the Pacific-10 conference, is the other team Folmer said the bowl would pick, and he said the Beavers would match-up well against the Tigers.
“It would be great with the new blood, new opportunities,” Folmer said. “Gary (Pinkel)’s been here before as a coach and it would be a good fit.”
If none of these scenarios take place and Missouri is available when the Insight Bowl, which is Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz., selects with its pick of the No. 6 Big 12 team, bowl officials said it would likely take the Tigers.
DANIEL HONORED: Quarterback Chase Daniel was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Daniel threw four touchdowns and a career-high 356 yards in Missouri’s 42-17 victory against Kansas on Saturday. With the passing yardage, Daniel became the first Missouri quarterback to record 3,000 passing yards in a single season.
The sophomore was also named the conference’s offensive player of the week after throwing a school-record five touchdowns against Murray State on Sept. 2.