The Missouri Tigers will play in the Independence Bowl.
One must wonder if the Tigers deserve better, worse or get exactly what they deserved.
Only recently has the Independence Bowl became one with any national significance. In 2008, the game was played between Northern Illinois and Louisiana Tech. The Independence Bowl seems to be a bowl game played between well-known, but not necessarily great, football teams. For example, the game in 2009 was played between 6-6 Texas A&M and 7-5 Georgia. In 2010, 8-4 Air Force and 6-6 Georgia Tech faced off in a battle of the option offense.
On the surface, this looks like the perfect fit for Missouri. The Tigers have a lower record than usual, at 7-5. However, MU is better than their record indicates. The Tigers played Oklahoma tough, and were a missed field goal away from beating a hot Arizona State team (which looks much worse now, considering how ASU finished their season). This was also a team marred by injuries at key positions.
The only unreasonable loss on the Tigers’ record is the one against ASU. The other losses are, in order, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor. All of those teams are legitimately good teams. Missouri, in terms of football, deserves a better bowl than the Independence Bowl.
From there, one must figure out which game the Tigers should have gone to.
From a purely football standpoint, the best fit for MU is the Holiday Bowl. The Big 12 representative in the Holiday Bowl is Texas, who is ranked, possibly only because of their name. The Tigers beat the Longhorns and finished better in the Big 12. There are only two possible reasons why UT got into the Holiday Bowl over the Tigers. The first is that the Longhorns travel better than the Tigers, which is a very valid reason.
The second, however, is much more petty. Some believe that the Big 12 gave Missouri little help, if any, when the bowls were deciding which teams to invite. When asked beforehand what he thought about just that scenario, Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said “Well, I don’t know that. I would like to think they’ll do what’s right. I’ll just leave it at that.”
From a football standpoint, Missouri deserved better than the Independence Bowl. When attendance is factored in, however, it may have been the right choice.