Despite having a better record than two Big 12 teams picked ahead of them in the bowl selection, the Missouri football team accepted an invitation to the Texas Bowl after being passed over by the Insight and Independence bowls.
Missouri (8-4) will face the Navy (8-4) in Houston's Reliant Stadium on New Year's Eve, giving the program a chance to impress recruits in a pipeline state.
"It's in a recruiting area for us," coach Gary Pinkel said at a news conference for the bowl announcement Sunday. "We have 25 players from the state of Texas, and we have a huge alumni base in Houston. We've been to all the Texas bowls from the Big 12 standpoint, and it's been very positive for us."
The game will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. It is a stand-alone game, meaning no other bowl game will take place at the same time.
This bowl marks the fifth consecutive bowl game for the Tigers — a school record.
This is the third year Missouri has been passed over by a higher bowl game, despite having a superior record than teams chosen. As has been the norm for the last two bowl announcements, Pinkel played down the snub.
"The process of the Big 12 has been frustrating, but I also don't think this is the appropriate time to talk about that," Pinkel said.
Iowa State (6-6) was invited to the Insight Bowl and Texas A&M (8-4) was invited to the Independence Bowl. Missouri defeated the Cyclones 34-24 on Nov. 21.
Senior team captains, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Danario Alexander, were on hand to answer questions. They also remained diplomatic about the selection process.
Weatherspoon said the athletics department did everything it could to work its way into the best bowl game.
"No doubt," Weatherspoon said. "I'm always going to ride with those guys and they did what's best. We get to be on ESPN and go to a place where we recruit, and it's going to work out well."
Alexander voiced a similar sentiment.
"They did all that they can do, and we don't fault them at all for that," Alexander said.
Senior wide receiver Jared Perry, who tore his ACL earlier in the season, has worked his way back to playing form, something about which Pinkel could not be happier.
"He is working to get back," Pinkel said. "He's excited to get back, and I hope he gets back."
Perry's return would add another weapon to the Tigers' offensive attack and likely detract attention away from Alexander.
Despite the snub, Missouri iterated the game means just as much to them as any other and should be a chance to show why they should have been chosen for the higher bowls.
"If we go out there and take care of business, it'll be the icing on the cake," Weatherspoon said.