Missouri will face a former Big 12 foe in the program’s first bowl appearance in three years.
The Tigers accepted an invitation to the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 in Houston against the Texas Longhorns, a program Missouri faced regularly before joining the Southeastern Conference. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. at NRG Stadium. The game will air on ESPN.
The game has plenty of ties outside of conference play as the Tigers targeted Longhorns coach Tom Herman to replace former Missouri coach Gary Pinkel after the 2015 season. Current MU coach Barry Odom got the job instead.
Odom’s first game in a Missouri uniform came against Texas in 1996. He noted in Sunday’s press conference that it was also the school’s first official game in the Big 12 Conference and that it was delayed due to rain.
“There’s a lot of history between Missouri and Texas,” Odom said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of that.”
In 2013, then-Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds famously took a shot at the Tigers’ program when discussing the standard set at Texas, saying, “We’re going to have good years again. Our bad years are not that bad. Take a school like Missouri. Our bad years are better than their good years.”
None of Missouri’s current players were on the team when the Tigers faced Texas in Big 12 play. Missouri has a number of players from the Houston area on its roster, including senior wide receiver J’Mon Moore, freshman linebacker Josh Bledsoe and freshman defensive tackle Kobie Whiteside.
Odom said his players are aware of what has been said between both sides and is sure they’ll be up to speed by the time the game comes around.
“There’ll be plenty of information that our team receives,” Odom said. “We’ll make sure they’re aware of it all.”
Odom said in the history of college football, only one other team has started the season 1-5 and finished with eight wins. The Tigers are using the bowl game as motivation to end the season in the history books.
Missouri has a few ties with Texas on the team as defensive line coach Brick Haley was on former Longhorns coach Charlie Strong’s staff last year and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott is a transfer from the Longhorns. Elliott is sitting out this year due to NCAA transfer rules. Despite the ties, Odom said having connections to the opponent doesn’t help that much in scouting Texas.
“They’ll know as much about us as we do them,” Odom said.
Missouri last played in the Texas Bowl in 2009, when the Tigers lost 35-13 to Navy.
“Great national brand. They’ve got a strong alumni base and a great following,” Texas Bowl executive director David Fletcher told The Star about Mizzou this season.
“They’ve been a great story this year to see how they’ve finished their season. And they’ve got great familiarity with the other side as they were a part of the Big 12 for a number of years.”
According to the Mizzou athletic department, the Tigers are allotted 8,000 tickets, priced at $125 for the 300 Club Level and $85 for the 100 Lower Level. They can be purchased online at mutigers.com/tickets, by calling 800-228-7297 or in person at the Mizzou Arena box office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Tiger Scholarship Fund members and season-ticket holders must place their orders by noon Wednesday to receive priority.
▪ Odom said junior nose tackle Terry Beckner’s decision to return for his senior year has been made for weeks. The ability for him to get a degree and lead Missouri to greater success were big factors in his decision.
“He cares deeply about our football program,” Odom said. “He wants to be a leader.”
▪ Cornerback Christian Holmes, who suffered from a separated shoulder in preseason camp, is unlikely to play in the Texas Bowl, according to Odom. Holmes hasn’t played all year but recently started practicing with the team.
Odom said that sophomore running back Damarea Crockett could potentially play in the game.
▪ Freshman linebacker Jamal Brooks will miss the bowl game after suffering a knee injury against Arkansas.
The Star’s Aaron Reiss contributed to this report