Missouri may grab Cotton Bowl spot
ATLANTA — The LSU Tigers appear to be headed to Florida to ring in the New Year after Auburn’s 59-42 victory over Missouri here Saturday in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
Speculation is high that Missouri (11-2) will wind up in the Cotton Bowl against a former Big 12 opponent such as Oklahoma State or Oklahoma.
For 9-3 LSU, that means a likely trip to either the Outback Bowl or the Gator Bowl.
The Outback is Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla., while the Gator is New Year’s Day in Jacksonville, Fla.
Both games are against Big Ten opponents. The Outback would likely pit LSU against Iowa or Nebraska (8-4), while the Gator would likely pair LSU with Michigan.
The Outback is also believed to be considering Texas A&M while the Gator is considering Georgia (both 8-4).
Any of those matchups would result in intriguing storylines for the Tigers.
LSU has never met Michigan in football, by far the biggest-name program the Tigers have never played. LSU coach Les Miles played at Michigan and has been averse to scheduling the Wolverines.
Iowa shocked LSU 30-25 in the 2005 Capital One Bowl with a last-play 56-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway, a play Hawkeyes fans simply refer to as “The Catch.” It was the final game of the Nick Saban era before he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins.
LSU has never beaten Nebraska in football, an 0-5-1 record that includes four bowl losses: 17-12 in the 1971 Orange Bowl, 21-20 in the 1983 Orange, 28-10 in the 1985 Sugar Bowl and 30-15 in the 1987 Sugar Bowl.
Nebraska is coached by former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who left Miles’ staff after the Tigers won the BCS national title during the 2007 season.
If LSU winds up in either of those Florida bowl destinations, it will be a long time coming for the Tigers.
LSU’s only appearance in the Gator Bowl was in 1987 when the Tigers throttled then non-SEC member South Carolina 30-13. It was after the 1988 season the last time LSU played in the Outback Bowl, a 23-10 loss to Syracuse, a trip that came so long ago the game was called the Hall of Fame Bowl.
The Cotton would be contractually obligated to select Missouri if it is passed over for a BCS bowl, the Capital One and the Outback. The Cap One has first pick of non-BCS teams from the SEC, while the Outback has first pick of teams from the SEC East like Missouri.
This year is the Cotton’s turn to serve as the so-called “safety net” for the SEC Championship Game loser, a responsibility it rotates with the Cap One, Outback and Chick-fil-A.
LSU appears unlikely to head back to Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Bowl after playing here last year. Texas A&M or Georgia could be in this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva could not immediately be reached for comment.