Ready for some bowl drama? ‘Mizzou doesn’t want to play KU’; not true, say the Tigers

KC Star file photo

Nothing like a little bowl-matchup drama on selection weekend.

Since Missouri became eligible for postseason play with its win against Arkansas last Friday, speculation about the Tigers’ bowl destination has included several possibilities.

But one stands out: a Liberty Bowl contest against Kansas.

The border rivals haven’t met on a football field since 2011, Mizzou’s final year in the Big 12 before leaving for the SEC. The teams are scheduled to begin a two-year series in 2025.

But why wait to begin the fun? It’s already (re)started in men’s basketball, and the second meeting in the renewed series is next Saturday at Columbia.

Kansas is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 and a meeting with MU would add flavor to any neutral-setting contest. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 28 works because it’s one of three that has ties with the SEC and Big 12.

But a report by Brett McMurphy of Action Network said Missouri doesn’t want to play Kansas. The report didn’t elaborate.

Missouri responded from the Mizzou Football twitter account.

“Not true...Looking forward to our bowl game vs. any team!”

Coach Eli Drinkwitz also shared his thoughts on Twitter: “Not scared to play here-there-or anywhere,” he tweeted with a photo of the Liberty Bowl.

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Conferences, bowls and schools usually reach an agreement on bowl destinations. Schools provide site preferences. The Liberty Bowl is one of six in the “SEC pool,” a group of bowls that are assigned teams after SEC teams are selected for the College Football Playoff, other major bowls and the Citrus Bowl.

“The SEC will assign us our team on Sunday,” said Harold Graeter, associate executive director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in an e-mail to The Star.

The other bowls in the SEC pool: Texas, Las Vegas, Music City (Nashville), Gator and Reliaquest in Tampa, Fla.. The SEC has ties with two other games, the Birmingham Bowl and Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, and Missouri has been the subject of speculation for several bowls on this list.

As for the Big 12 team in the Liberty Bowl, Kansas would bring plenty of appeal.

“Kansas is certainly an interesting and intriguing potential team,” said Graeter, one of three Liberty Bowl officials who attended the Jayhawks’ final home game, against Texas. “We were impressed with the new enthusiasm and excitement around the Kansas football program created by head coach Lance Leipold and director of athletics Travis Goff.

“We fully recognize that Kansas has not participated in a bowl game since 2008 and Jayhawk fans are eager to celebrate their team’s return to the post season and follow them on a bowl trip.”

A Liberty Bowl official also attended the Missouri-Arkansas game.