After winning four of their final five games, including a 24-10 victory at the Border War, the Missouri Tigers are headed for the Advocare 100 Independence Bowl to face the North Carolina Tar Heels. The game is located in Shreveport, LA on Dec. 26 and kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
While everyone knows that the Independence Bowl isn’t exactly the Rose Bowl, reaching a bowl still gives the Tigers a chance to continue their late season success and get their eighth win of the season, a win total they have not gone below since 2005.
The first Independence Bowl was played in 1976 between McNeese State and Tulsa (McNeese State won 20-16). According to independencebowl.org, the bowl began when the directors of the Shreveport-Bossier City Sports Foundation wanted to bring postseason football to northwest Louisiana. It was named the Independence Bowl due to a strong military presence in Shreveport, and the inaugural game was played in the year of the United States’ bicentennial.
For the first five years, the bowl was connected with the Southland Conference, with an at-large team selected to play the member of the SLC. But in 1981, the directors of the bowl cut ties with the SLC and began selecting the best teams they could, regardless of conference affiliation. That year, they selected rivals Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, and garnered national attention for the matchup.
The bowl continued to put together solid matchups throughout the next decade, and was picked up by ESPN in 1992, and has since become a fixture in ESPN’s Bowl Week. That year, the new national audience saw Wake Forest defeat Oregon 39-35.
Local favorites Louisiana Tech and Louisiana State were natural fits when selected to the Independence Bowl. Louisiana Tech has been selected to play in the bowl four times, and LSU twice, including what is arguably the biggest matchup in Independence Bowl history. The 1997 edition of the game pit No. 15 LSU against Notre Dame, who had defeated the Tigers earlier that season. LSU pulled out a 27-9 victory in front of a sellout crowd, led by 222 rushing yards by backup running back Rondell Mealey.
The 2000 edition of the game was memorable not necessarily for the matchup, but for the conditions it was played in. Mississippi State defeated Texas A&M 43-41 in overtime, and the game was played through strong wind and snow. The game has become known as the “Snow Bowl” due to the wintry conditions.
Ole Miss has made five appearances in the Independence Bowl, the most in the 36 year history of the game. This includes a 2002 matchup against Nebraska, in which Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning led the Rebels to a 27-23 comeback victory.
This will be Mizzou’s third appearance in the Independence Bowl, its first coming in 2003. The Tigers, led by quarterback Brad Smith, faced the Arkansas Razorbacks. Mizzou fell behind 21-7 at halftime, but Smith could not lead any kind of comeback, and the Tigers fell 27-14.
Two years later, Mizzou returned to Shreveport to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. Again, Brad Smith’s team found itself trailing, down 21-0 after the first quarter, and 28-7 late in the first half. This time, Smith was able to lead a Tigers’ comeback. He accounted for 432 of Mizzou’s 504 total yards and four touchdowns (one passing, three rushing), including a one yard touchdown run with 2:13 left to play in the game, which put Mizzou up 38-31. An interception thrown by South Carolina’s Blake Mitchell on the following possession ended any threat of a Gamecock rally. Smith was named Offensive MVP, and his 432 total yards is an Independence Bowl record for one player.
This year, Mizzou will try to bring their Independence Bowl record to 2-1 and snap a two game bowl losing streak. The Independence Bowl is certainly not the most prestigious game in the world, but with the game dating back more than 35 years, and a history of solid matchups, it should give the Tigers a good end of the season test. They hope to send the 27 seniors, including All-Big 12 First Team members Michael Egnew and Dominique Hamilton, on a high note.
Topics: All-Big 12, Arkansas, Blake Mitchell, Border War, Bowl Week, Brad Smith, Dominique Hamilton, Eli Manning, ESPN, Gamecocks, Independence Bowl, Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, LSU, McNeese State, Michael Egnew, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Mizzou, MVP, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Razorbacks, Rondell Mealey, Rose Bowl, Shreveport, SLC, Snow Bowl, South Carolina, Southland Conference, Tar Heels, Texas A&M, Tigers, Tulsa, Wake Forest