Missouri's bowl scenarios ahead of Arkansas game: Here's where the Tigers could be headed

·4 min read

It's no longer a question of whether Missouri football is headed to a bowl game for the first time since 2018.

It's now a question of where.

After last Saturday's overtime victory over Florida, the Tigers reached the six-win bowl-eligibility threshold, meaning their season won't end Friday, regardless of the result against Arkansas.

That's a drastic change for the Tigers, who appeared on only 35% of online lists four weeks ago. Missouri went from undesirable to undeniable for its bowl eligibility.

So where and when could Missouri suit up for a bowl?

While a few enticing matchups exist, the newest to enter the fray since the win over the Gators are two projections that view Missouri facing Central Florida in the postseason.

The Knights and Tigers would give Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz a chance to match wits with UCF head coach Gus Malzahn.

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Drinkwitz views Malzahn as one of his biggest mentors in coaching, with their ties going beyond the FBS, to Springdale (Ark.) High School. The two worked together at Auburn and Arkansas State as well.

Both ESPN's Kyle Schlabach and College Football News predict Missouri will face UCF at the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 28 at Protective Life Stadium. The Tigers won both previous gridiron matchups between the teams, with the latest coming in 2014.

ESPN's Kyle Bonagura predicts Missouri will face Appalachian State in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 23 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Missouri Tigers tight end Niko Hea (48) celebrates after scoring against the Florida Gators last Saturday at Faurot Field.
Missouri Tigers tight end Niko Hea (48) celebrates after scoring against the Florida Gators last Saturday at Faurot Field.

The Tigers vs. Mountaineers clash would see Drinkwitz face the only other college team for which he's been the head coach, almost two years after he departed Boone, North Carolina, for Boone County.

A few full-time Missouri assistants followed Drinkwitz to Missouri from Appalachian State, including special teams coordinator Erik Link, associate head coach and defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison, and linebackers coach D.J. Smith.

Tigers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is a Mountaineers alum and coached at his alma mater for one season, when the school was a member of the FCS, formerly known as Division I-AA, in 2001. App State and Missouri have never faced on the gridiron.

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What football bowl will Mizzou end up in?

College Sports Madness has Missouri facing an Atlantic Coast Conference team in the Gasparilla Bowl: Syracuse. The Orange have won all three previous matchups against the Tigers, with the most recent coming in 2012.

BowlSeason.com predicts Missouri to face former Big 12 Conference rival Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl on Jan. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Tigers lead the all-time series against the Red Raiders 6-3, last playing in 2011.

Sports Illustrated also sees Missouri heading to Houston for the Texas Bowl, but to face Iowa State. Missouri holds a 61-34-9 all-time series lead over the Cyclones, also last playing in 2011. The Tigers have won five straight against Iowa State.

Missouri last played in the Texas Bowl in 2017, losing to Texas. The Tigers haven't won a bowl game since defeating Minnesota in the 2015 Citrus Bowl.

Athlon Sports has Missouri facing West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl, taking place Dec. 28 in Memphis.

West Virginia never overlapped with Missouri as members of the Big 12, with the Tigers winning the most recent matchup between the teams 38-7 in 2019. Missouri also holds the all-time series lead over the Mountaineers 4-3.

The Sporting News also projects MU participating in the Liberty Bowl, but facing Texas Tech.

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Another opponent appearing twice among possible bowl opponents for the Tigers is UAB. Action Network's Brett McMurphy has the Tigers playing in a true road game against the Blazers in the Birmingham Bowl.

USA Today also predicts a Missouri vs. UAB matchup, taking place Dec. 18 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. MU won the only all-time meeting against the Blazers in 1999.

CBS Sports has Missouri facing Penn State in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The Nittany Lions hold a 3-1 all-time series lead over the Tigers, with the programs last squaring off in 1980.

Pro Football Network sees Missouri facing Virginia in the Duke's Mayo Bowl on Dec. 30 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The Tigers won the only previous matchup against the Cavaliers in 1973.

Contact Eric Blum at eblum@columbiatribune.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: What bowl will Mizzou football play in? Here are the predictions

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