The Missouri Tigers had an up and down 2018 season, but it was exciting every single week, and that’s more than you could say about past years.
Now, at 8-4, the Tigers have earned their way into a solid bowl game. Their bowl position will be helped out by the fact that Georgia, LSU and Florida potentially will be heading to New Year’s 6 games, bumping up the other bowl-eligible teams in the conference.
So, from a standpoint of entertainment, recruiting, profile and opponent, there are a few bowl games that stand out above the rest as good options for coach Barry Odom’s squad. Here’s a look at three options Mizzou fans should be rooting for this bowl season:
1. TaxSlayer Bowl
Well, we know by now that the Tigers absolutely own the Florida Gators, so why wouldn’t that domination of all things Gator continue against a Big Ten team in the Gator Bowl?
This would be a higher-profile game than last year’s Texas Bowl appearance, and it would be played on New Year’s Eve — a good time slot to get eyes on the Tigers before everyone goes out to party.
Plus, Mizzou would be a good matchup for a team like Michigan State or Wisconsin, as the Tigers are good at defending the run and have an offense that can expose Big Ten defenses. Just look at what Ohio State — one of the only teams with a halfway decent offense that Michigan played this year — did to the Wolverines’ defense Saturday afternoon.
Mizzou also needs to recruit the state of Florida better to consistently compete in the SEC, so having a game in the Sunshine State (and so close to talent-rich Georgia as well) would be a big boost.
Add it all up and a trip to Jacksonville could end up being a great final game for senior QB Drew Lock and the Tiger seniors.
2. Outback Bowl
This one is a bit of a long shot, as most projections have Kentucky winding up in this game representing the SEC, but the bowl committees and the conference could decide that the Tigers deserve this game, especially if Georgia, LSU and Florida all end up in New Year’s 6 bowl games.
Many projections have Penn State repping the Big Ten in this game, and watching senior QBs Trace McSorley and Drew Lock square off would be must-see television. Yes, Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr. is a beast, but how much more fun would it be to see him and the Wildcats go up against Wisconsin and star RB Jonathan Taylor in the Gator Bowl instead?
This is only No. 2 on my list because the Gator Bowl seems much more likely for the Tigers at this point, but bowl committees and the SEC need to do the right thing and give us the McSorley-Lock showdown/shootout we all want. What a way to start 2019 this game would be!
3. Liberty Bowl
The Tigers are only a few hours from Memphis, and a chance to pick up a win against a Big 12 foe is always exciting. Drew Lock and Emanuel Hall vs. a Big 12 defense would be sure to light up the scoreboard, even if the Big 12 squad (seeing a lot of projections for Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State at the moment) would also score plenty of points throwing against Mizzou’s pass defense.
A game against TCU would be intriguing, though, as the Horned Frogs are having a down year and don’t have a very dynamic offense. They’re good on defense, though, so it would provide a fun challenge for Lock and the balanced Derek Dooley offense.
This is another New Year’s Eve game, and that means there would be a lot of eyes on the Tigers, which is exactly what this program needs right now.