COLUMBIA — Six years ago, Missouri walloped Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl as a member of the Big 12.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
On Sunday, the ninth-ranked Tigers, who lost to Auburn 59-42 in the SEC championship game a day earlier, learned that they are Dallas-bound again.
Of course, now Missouri, 11-2, represents the SEC and will face former Big 12 brethren Oklahoma State in the 78th Annual Cotton Bowl Classic at 7 p.m. Jan. 3 at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
I think its a great matchup, Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. You look at the two teams records, the great years weve had. Theres going to be a lot of great matchups, but I cant imagine any better than this one.
Missouri landed in the Cotton Bowl after the Capital One chose South Carolina, which was the only team to beat the Tigers in the regular season, and the Outback selected LSU despite having the first choice of remaining SEC East teams.
The Cotton Bowl, which had the first choice of SEC West teams, was thrilled to land Missouri, which has a large alumni base.
Anyone that follows college football knows this years Classic is going to be absolutely terrific, Cotton Bowl team selection chairman Fin Ewing said. Without question, Oklahoma State and Missouri are two of the nations best teams. We got lucky again to have a chance to showcase a matchup like this.
This will be Missouris third appearance in the Cotton Bowl, including the last appearance under similar circumstances.
The Tigers, who went 11-1 in the 2007 regular season before getting roughed by Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, pounded Arkansas 38-7 in the 2008 Cotton Bowl and finished with a school-record 12 wins.
Missouri also played in the 1946 Cotton Bowl, a 40-27 loss against Texas.
First off, its good to be doing this again, Pinkel said. We took a year off, so its always great when youre sitting here talking about going to a bowl game. The AT&T Cotton Bowl has such a great tradition.
There were, of course, some hard feelings among some Big 12 teams when Missouri jumped ship for the SEC. That will serve as the backdrop for the next month leading up to the game.
They say we ran from them, so were going back to prove a point that weve gained their respect just like weve gained our respect in the SEC, junior running back Henry Josey said.
Of course, its about more than conference pride.
Sure we think about all that, senior left tackle Justin Britt said. We always want to prove that we belong in the SEC and that we made the right choice. But as far as pride for doing it for the SEC, I dont feel pride for that. I feel pride for doing it for us.
Still, Missouri is eager for that chance to strut its stuff in the new conference and hopes its fans will be too.
We expect a high level of enthusiasm from our fan base, Missouri executive assistant athletic direct Bryan Maggard said. Were allotted 12,500 tickets. We have opened those up to (Tiger Scholarship Fund) and season-ticket holders to date. Weve had a very solid response thus far.
Missouris allotment of Cotton Bowl tickets, which cost $140, go on sale at noon Monday at MUTigers.com or by calling 800-228-7297
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.