The Missouri Tigers are going bowling! The only questions are when, where, and what bowl game?
Well, Mizzou had their opportunity on Friday against the Arkansas Razorbacks to improve their bowl situation, but ultimately couldn’t pull off the upset on the road against a ranked opponent — which was a pretty much the expected outcome. In a 34-17 loss, the Tigers ended the regular season with a 6-6 record.
That .500 record sounds underwhelming, but for a rebuilding program that hasn’t actually played in a bowl game since 2018, any bowl game is progress for this team – especially with how they started this season.
Finishing in fourth place in the SEC East ahead of bowl eligible South Carolina and Florida, including head-to-head victories over them – that could potentially put the Tigers in a respectable bowl game against another Power Five opponent after Christmas. So, you would think.
That’s not always the case though, as bowl games are usually more about the money and attendance draws. With a record setting 13 of the 14 SEC teams bowl eligible, the outcome might not be too favorable for Mizzou.
However, Missouri was scheduled to play in the Music City Bowl against Iowa last season even with a .500 record before the COVID cancellation — so could that be a potential landing spot for the Tigers?
Well, let’s take a look at some projections:
CBS: Quick Lane Bowl vs Eastern Michigan
($$) ESPN: Kyle Bonagura (Gasparilla Bowl vs Appalachian State), Mark Schlabach (Birmingham Bowl vs Louisville)
Saturday Down South: First Responder Bowl vs Tulsa
Athlon Sports: Liberty Bowl vs West Virginia
247Sports: Liberty Bowl vs West Virginia
Action Network: Liberty Bowl vs Texas Tech
College Football News: Quick Lane Bowl vs Kent State
($$) The Athletic: Quick Lane Bowl vs Western Michigan
Sports Illustrated: Liberty Bowl vs West Virginia
USA Today: First Responder vs Texas Tech
Sporting News: Military Bowl vs Wyoming
Yahoo: First Responder vs Air Force
Bowl Season: Camellia Bowl vs North Texas
(We’ll keep you updated if any more projections come in throughout the week).
What I’d really like to see: Liberty or Texas Bowl against Iowa State. That would be a fun, regional Big 12 rivalry renewed bowl game featuring two young stars in the head coaching ranks between Eli Drinkwitz and Matt Campbell. Plus, it would be a matchup between two of the Doak Walker Award finalists Breece Hall vs Tyler Badie if they both play. And the Mevis brothers would square off against each other. Make it happen!
Of these projections, the Quick Lane (3) and Liberty Bowl (4) are the popular picks. I would say the Liberty Bowl makes the most sense here as Memphis is a pretty ideal location. It was also the last bowl game Missouri played in, and the Tiger fanbase had a pretty good turnout despite the loss to Oklahoma State.
Meanwhile, the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit would be played on a Monday at 11:00 a.m. CST against a MAC team, which simply isn’t going to generate too much excitement. I understand there’s no Big Ten teams that are available to slot in, but it seems like such a weird fit for Missouri, who has already played a team from the MAC earlier in their season.
To potentially get a better bowl spot, Missouri should be hoping for Georgia and Alabama to both make the College Football Playoff, with Ole Miss as the other SEC team getting a New Year’s Six Bowl berth. That would be seem to be the best-case scenario.
Look, we can’t be extremely picky about what bowl game Missouri gets with a 6-6 record — and Mizzou will take any bowl game they can get — but, we’ll officially find out where the Tigers are heading on Sunday.
With a win in their bowl game, the Tigers would clinch their first winning season since 2018 and their first bowl win since New Year’s Day 2015 in the Citrus Bowl against Minnesota. That’s the most important thing.
Whatever happens, just enjoy the bowl season — it’s certainly a better time when Mizzou is involved.