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November 27, 2010

Murky bowl picture ahead

After its 35-7 win over Kansas on Saturday, No. 14-Missouri (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) now waits for the bowl picture to clear before the Tigers find out their postseason destination.

At this point, it appears that Missouri could land anywhere from Miami (in the Orange Bowl, a BCS game) to San Diego (in the Holiday Bowl, which picks fifth in the Big 12 bowl line-up). David Knisely, an Orange Bowl committee member, attended Saturday's game to scout Missouri, which has made the bowl's list of final candidates a week before the selection process.

Knisely said fan attendance, along with a team's final BCS rankings, will determine the Orange Bowl's selection next Sunday.

"I think it's a concern with every bowl," Knisely said. "That's one of the things we look at, the travel, historical travel of the school, enthusiasm of the crowd, how they finish in the BCS, the rankings. A lot of things are taken into account."

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden also addressed Missouri's bowl prospects after the game.

The Orange Bowl appears to be the best-case scenario for the Tigers, but that would require a few dominoes to fall in Missouri's favor. Oregon and Auburn, currently the top-ranked teams in the BCS, would have to win out and take a spot in the national championship. If TCU is then ranked third in the BCS, the Rose Bowl would be obligated to select the Horned Frogs to replace the Pac-10 champion (Oregon). Here's a look at how the BCS bowls would look in Missouri's favor:

National Championship: Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: TCU vs. Big 10 champ
Sugar Bowl: SEC at-large vs. Big 10 at-large
Fiesta Bowl: Big 12 champ vs. Big East champ
Orange Bowl: ACC champ vs. at-large

If those first few dominoes fall, then the Orange Bowl would select between Stanford, Boise State and an at-large Big 12 team to face the ACC champion. It looks unlikely that the Broncos will be that pick, after falling to Nevada on Friday night. No matter what happens in the Big 12 title game, the Orange Bowl would have to decide whether a two-loss Big 12 team, which includes Missouri, would travel better than the Cardinal. Stanford's small alumni base has a reputation for not traveling well.

However, if Stanford reaches fourth in the BCS, then the Cardinal would be selected for a BCS bowl. Currently, Stanford is sixth, two spots behind LSU. However, with Boise State's loss, an LSU loss to Arkansas (game currently in progress) would most likely propel the Cardinal to No. 4 in the BCS rankings.

Basically, Missouri fans need to be LSU, Oregon and Auburn fans over the next week. In addition, Tigers fans should probably root for Oklahoma State tonight and in the Big 12 championship. If the Cowboys win both games, then the Big 12 at-large picks would be between a two-loss Missouri or a three-loss Nebraska, Oklahoma or Texas A&M team. In that case, it's unlikely those three squads would be in the top-14 of the BCS rankings, which is a requirement for an at-large bid.

If the Orange Bowl passes on Missouri, then the Tigers still have a realistic shot at the Cotton Bowl, Alamo Bowl, Insight Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. The chances at a return to the Cotton Bowl, which Missouri won against Arkansas in 2008, hinges on the Cotton Bowl committee attempting to avoid a rematch between Arkansas and Texas A&M, which played in Cowboys Stadium earlier this season.

"I'm not sure how that all goes down," Gary Pinkel said about the bowl process. "I stay so focused day-to-day around here just doing our job and the big picture, I don't look at that sometimes."

Pinkel's admitted lack of knowledge, however, didn't stop the Missouri coach from campaigning for his team.

"... A great statement from Mizzou football also was (ESPN) GameDay and that nationally televised game about what Mizzou fans are about. That's a great statement for Mizzou."


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