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Who should Mizzou schedule for non-conference Football games?

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Let’s tier the potential opponents, and detail why we'd love to play them.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I enrolled at Mizzou in the fall of 2002, excited for a taste of big-time college football. My first-ever game was the Brad Smith breakout in the Braggin’ Rights Game; now I go to games in the SEC’s greatest stadiums with the same group of friends.

As Mizzou’s football program has evolved, so has my wishlist for non-conference opponents. Each year that passes sees Missouri’s faithful checking off another college football cathedral down south from the tailgating bucket list. The astute fan already has reservations in Baton Rouge this fall and has already researched barbecue spots in Tuscaloosa in preparation for 2018’s trip. The industrious among us will have plans devised for sneaking cases of Stag Beer into Provo in 2020, and 2022 will see the Tigers make their first-ever trip to Toomer’s Corner.

All of these matchups are exciting, but let’s dream a little. Presented herein is a wholly unscientific ranking of squads I would love to see on Missouri’s schedule. Factors considered in this offseason exercise in imagination include, but are not limited to: tailgating scenes, cameo appearances in fertile recruiting grounds, the energy and atmosphere of the stadium, and measuring stick games with other similar programs.

Missouri’s football schedule is pretty well booked until 2019 and 2020. In 2019 there are two open dates: September 14th and a late season date - typically around the third weekend in October, in this case it’s October 19th. In 2020, Missouri plays BYU late in the season on November 7th which should rule out another October non-conference game but both September 12th and 19th are open. We can cross-check these dates with the teams below to see if a game is possible.

In summary, these are the open dates for Mizzou:

  • 2019: September 14th, October 19th

  • 2020: September 12th, 19th

Tier 1: Dream Matchups

Mizzou’s past and present conference schedule has eliminated a number of destinations that could have been on this list. Death Valley? (Soon to be) Check. Between the hedges? Check. The Swamp, Rocky Top, The Grove? Check, check, and check.

Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois

Duh. I am not going to waste any electronic ink on these three.

  • Kansas, October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • Nebraska, October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • Kansas, September 19th, 2020: OPEN

Michigan or Ohio State

Mizzou has sparse history with these two historic Midwestern powers. While a recurring matchup against either Urban’s empire or Harbaugh’s resurrected program would likely result in some hefty L’s, the games would be fantastic road trips for fans.

  • Michigan, September 14th, 2019: OPEN
  • Ohio State, September 19th, 2020: OPEN

The Rose Bowl

For this to happen, Mizzou would have to make the playoffs in a year when the Rose Bowl hosts a playoff game (every three years), which would be an incredible achievement for this program regardless of the venue or the opponent or the season. The Granddaddy of Them All is a storybook spectacle, a time to forget all the things we hate about college football and enjoy the season’s last hurrah.

The next opportunity for a Rose Bowl playoff game is the 2017 season. Juniors Lock, Beckner, and Brady, just sayin’ … I’m hearing whispers.

Notre Dame

It seems like Mizzou and Notre Dame could be a decent rivalry, yet they have only met four times, which two wins apiece; Dan Devine has notched a win on each side of the ledger. Every game against Notre Dameregardless of their actual quality as a teamis a chance for a marquee win. Mizzou fans would love a chance to travel to one of the sport’s great cathedrals for the first time in since 1978.

  • September 12th, 2020: OPEN

Texas

Any opportunity to revisit and laugh at DeLoss Dodds’ absurd insult of Mizzou is welcome. You could look at this matchup one of two ways: Missouri looking to gain ground in the historically lopsided series, which they trail 6 to 17; or looking to extend their 1 (one) game winning streak over Texas. Throw in a weekend partying in Austin, the piles of top-notch brisket, and a showcase game in a recruiting hotbed, and it’s hard to imagine a better opponent for Mizzou.

  • Texas, October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • Texas, September 19th, 2020: OPEN

Tier 2: Let’s do it!

Colorado

When considering which old Big XII North rivalries to rekindle, Colorado is actually the best choice outside of the two obvious ones listed above. Iowa State is nothing but a house of horrors; you never want to be the visiting favorite when Hilton Magic strikes the Cyclones win their allotted one silly upset each year. Kansas State? No thanks.

Colorado is a perfect fit. The programs are very similar, and both fled a potentially crumbling Big XII for greener pastures. Missouri holds a 41-31-3 all-time advantage, and won the last 5 before the matchups stopped; Colorado dominated the 80’s and 90’s and has notched both a Heisman winner and a national title. The renewed rivalry would revisit one of the sport’s craziest endings, the infamous 5th down play in 1990. Boulder would be a fun trip for Mizzou fans, and I’m sure many of us would find some local vendors that we would happily give our money to in exchange for some of the state’s most notable products. What? I’m talking about microbrews, guys.

  • Colorado, October 19th, 2019: OPEN

USC or UCLA

Tailgating in the California weather. The Rose Bowl or The Coliseum. True Blue & Gold or Cardinal and Gold vs the Black and Gold. Friday on the beach, Saturday at a Mizzou game. Tacos. Annoying my friends by playing Hollywood Nights one hundred times in a row in a rental car. Yeah, let’s do this, Mack Rhoades.

  • USC: October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • USC: September 12th, 2020: OPEN
  • UCLA: October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • UCLA: September 12th, 2020: OPEN

Second-tier Big Ten school

All of the benefits of the Big Ten vs SEC trash-talking, measuring-stick, my-conference-can-beat-your-conference matchup but with some more realistic odds at notching a win. Iowa would be a natural border rival, big state schools with similarly prestigious programs, but the two teams have not met in the regular season in over a century. Wisconsin’s Camp Randall is one of the sport’s premiere destinations.

  • Rutgers, September 14th, 2019: OPEN
  • Michigan State, October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • Wisconsin, September 14th, 2019: OPEN
  • Rutgers, September 12th, September 19th, 2020: OPEN
  • Iowa, September 19th, 2020: OPEN
  • Michigan State, September 19th, 2020: OPEN
  • Wisconsin, September 19th, 2020: OPEN

Tier 3: Yeah, Why not?

Georgia Tech

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Atlanta for the 2013 SEC Championship, all the way until the 4th quarter of that game. Georgia is a recruiting hotbed and Missouri is active in the area, with multiple commits from the state in each of the past few classes. The schools have very little history: they have split a pair of games so long ago that the losing coach from each game now has the school’s stadium named after him. Considering what happened when Missouri played Navy in the 2009 Texas Bowl, maybe we should wait until Paul Johnson and his triple-option scheme has moved on before we schedule this matchup.

  • Georgia Tech, September 14th, 2019: OPEN
  • Georgia Tech, September 12th, 2020: OPEN

Maryland

This one is purely selfish. I grew up in Washington, DC, just a Drew Lock pass away from the University of Maryland and I consider myself a sidewalk fan of the their teams. I held season tickets to Terps games in the mid-2000’s after moving back to our nation’s capital, and it’s a fun place to see a game when the Terrapins are good. A number of close friends attended UMD, and I can think of nothing more fun than a tailgate in my hometown before a Mizzou game. Every out-of-state Mizzou alum can identify with the sentiment.

There are no open dates between Maryland and Mizzou in 2019 or 2020

Pacific Northwest school

As a college football diehard, some of my favorite games are the late-night Pac XII games. Let’s get weird. Pass-heavy offenses, special teams chaos, rowdy home crowds, wild finishes. Mizzou dipped a toe in these waters with the Arizona State home-and-home, and wouldn’t you know, things got weird. I can’t imagine a more fun to lose by thirty points to than Oregon. Husky Stadium is one of the nation’s loudest venues and is famous for riverfront boat-tailgating (a la Neyland).

  • Oregon, October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • Washington, October 19th, 2019: OPEN
  • Washington State, October 19th, 2019: OPEN (but WSU plays BYU the week before)
  • Washington: September 19th, 2020: OPEN
  • Washington State: September 12th and 19th, 2020: OPEN

Whether it’s for rekindling old rivalries or starting new ones, building relationships in recruiting areas, or just for good old-fashioned fun, who would you most like to see Mizzou schedule games with?