Full preview of Mizzou football's bowl pairing
Columbia - The 23rd ranked Missouri football team (8-4, 4-4 SEC) learned Sunday that they will head to Memphis, TN to take on Oklahoma State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) in the 2018 Liberty Bowl on December 31. The bowl and matchup includes multiple intriguing storylines for Tiger fans.
Mizzou used a four game winning streak to end the regular season to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season under Barry Odom. The Tigers began the season with a three game win streak, but had their bowl hopes in jeopardy after an 0-4 start to SEC play. But the huge upset victory at Florida to begin November gave the Tigers new life as they reeled off three more SEC wins to finish the season.
The opponent is a flashback to Missouri’s Big 12 days for Tiger fans. Missouri last met Oklahoma State in the 2014 Cotton Bowl, in which MU star Shane Ray returned a fumble for a touchdown to secure the Mizzou win. Missouri leads the all-time series 29-23 over the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State has been an inconsistent team all season. Their 6-6 record in not particularly impressive, however three of those wins came over ranked opponents, two of which were spotted within the top 10 when the Cowboys upset them. Also, a one point loss to College football playoff qualifier Oklahoma three weeks ago proves that head coach Mike Gundy’s Cowboys can hang with any team in the country.
The Liberty Bowl will be a reunion of sorts for multiple members of the Tiger program. Head coach Barry Odom was the defensive coordinator at the University of Memphis for three seasons before joining Missouri under the same title. Odom has made the Memphis area an emphasis of his recruiting since joining the Mizzou program. Tailback Tyler Badie and slot receiver Johnathon Johnston along with others hail from the greater Memphis area. The game could be a chance for Odom to showcase his SEC program to potential recruits in the area.
The game will be quarterback Drew Lock’s final as a member of the Missouri football program. The four year starter and Lee’s Summit native holds numerous program records and likely will be a first round selection in April’s NFL draft. Lock will be seeking his first bowl victory, however, after last season’s loss to Texas in the Texas Bowl.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:45 PM on the 31st. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN. Tickets are available for purchase through the MU athletic department.