Report: Missouri not interested in facing Kansas in a bowl game

The Kansas defense celebrates an interception by Kansas cornerback Ra'Mello Dotson (3) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

We’re now just two days away from finding out who and where Kansas will play in its first bowl appearance in 14 years, but Action Network’s Brett McMurphy on Friday provided a clue into who it might not be.

According to a report from McMurphy, who has covered college football for years and been on top of bowl projections throughout the season, Missouri officials have indicated they do not want to play Kansas in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 28.

OK. Before you go off and after you stop laughing about how incredible that sounds, there could be a couple of real reasons for it.

• Missouri’s basketball team plays Kentucky at home that night (Dec. 28) and the Tigers undoubtedly would like to have a good home crowd for that game. With a KU-Mizzou bowl game on that same evening, it’s easy to guess that most Missouri fans would have their attention on that, if they weren’t at the game in Memphis.

• It’s also possible Mizzou prefers a different bowl game altogether, be it for locale or recruiting purposes. That one seems a little weird, though, given the fact that they’re a 6-6 team that didn’t become bowl eligible until the final week of the regular season and I’m not sure 6-6 teams have much weight to throw around when it comes to these things. McMurphy’s report did indicate that sources told him it’s common for schools to share their preferences on opponents or places with bowl officials. But it’s still kind of weird that the 6-6 Tigers would have their wish granted just like that. After all, a KU-Mizzou Liberty Bowl very easily could be a sellout. I’d wager good money that the game won’t be sold out otherwise.

Regardless of the reason behind McMurphy’s report and Mizzou’s desire to not play Kansas, it’s just a terrible look for the Tigers for this to get out. I mean, you’d think that stance would be protected like the nuclear launch codes. Yet, here we are. At this point, it’s advantage Kansas and no one should be surprised if you see a billboard pop up in downtown Kansas City that references this. Heck, a case could be made for putting another one up in St. Louis and possibly even outside of SEC headquarters.

In the same report, McMurphy noted that sources told him that Kansas would not have been opposed to a matchup with Missouri. Those of us who cover the program certainly knew that to be the case long before that report. The Jayhawks are thrilled to be going bowling again and would play anyone, anywhere at any time.

Even if Missouri has real reasons — real, reasonable, understandable reasons — they have to know that they’re going to get crushed forever by Kansas fans and perhaps other fan bases as well for the perception that they’re dodging the Jayhawks. And how the heck would either side want that hanging over their head in this rivalry?

As of the posting of this blog, I still haven’t seen anything from anyone at Mizzou at least providing some spin for why this might have happened. You’d think at a minimum they’d want to put that out there, even if it’s something entirely made up.

Update: A response came from the Mizzou Football Twitter account around 12:20 p.m. on Friday, with a tweet that simply read, “Not true… looking forward to our bowl game against any team!”

At least they said something. Here’s the thing, though. Putting that out doesn’t really change much. They could still have requested not to play Kansas and that request can still be granted. Then, on Sunday, when the bowls are announced, if Missouri is not picked to play Kansas, they can simply say, “Well, they didn’t pick us. What can we do?”

It’s a decent job of saving face, but I’m not sure it makes McMurphy’s report any less accurate.

Weird stuff for sure.

It’s still possible for KU to land in the Liberty Bowl — some might even say likely — but it looks like the opponent won’t be the Tigers.

That will have to wait until Sept. 6, 2025, when the two schools renew the Border War series with four games over a seven-year span.

Anyone think this bowl drama will come up then?

Kansas and Missouri have played 120 football games against each other, but have not met since 2011, the year before Mizzou left for the SEC. At that time, the Border War was the second-most played rivalry in Division I history, with 120 games being played over the span of 122 years, and the longest continuous series west of the Mississippi River.

According to KU’s records, Missouri holds a 56-55-9 edge in the series, which included a stretch of 93 consecutive seasons from 1919-2011. The first meeting came in 1891, when Kansas won 22-10. The Tigers won the 2011 meeting at Arrowhead Stadium, 24-10.

Official bowl pairings will be announced Sunday. Most projections have the Liberty Bowl in Memphis (Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m.) and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix (Dec. 27, 9:15 p.m.) as the two most likely landing spots for Kansas.


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