Notebook: Missouri football earns bowl eligibility, agrees to play Illinois; Lock approaches records.

Since Saturday night’s big win, plenty has gone on in the world of Missouri football.

Missouri head coach Barry Odom waits to run onto the field with his team as the Tigers prepare to take on the No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville on Nov. 19.

It was a big weekend for Missouri football as the Tigers earned a sixth win on the season in Nashville to gain bowl eligibility and got over .500 for the first time since Week 1.

The Tigers now head to Arkansas on Friday to take on the Razorbacks for the fifth iteration of the Battle Line Rivalry. As the final regular season game of the season approaches, here’s the news from the last few days around Missouri football:

Missouri and Illinois to renew Braggin’ Rights game on the football field

Missouri and Illinois have agreed to return the Braggin’ Rights rivalry to the football field, so mark your calendars for September … 2026.

While none of the students on the four-year plan (or the five-year, six-year, seven-year or eight-year plan for that matter) at either university will be on campus when the Tigers and Illini rekindle the rivalry, the two schools announced Monday that they would begin a four-year, on-campus home and home football series beginning on Sept. 26, 2026.

The first matchup between the two schools will take place in Champaign, Illinois, and will mark the first on-campus battle between them since the conclusion of another four-year home and home that concluded in 1994. It will also be the first time that Missouri and Illinois will face off on the football field since September of 2010, when the two schools participated in the final game of its neutral site series in St. Louis. The Tigers will host Illinois in Columbia in 2027 and again in 2029.

The addition of Illinois to the slate comes just days after Mizzou announced that it had agreed to resume its series with Kansas State for the first time since 2011 as part of a two-year agreement beginning in 2022.

As he did after announcing the Kansas State series, Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk expressed excitement for the fans Monday in announcing the series with Illinois.

“This is another opportunity to renew a great football rivalry that we believe Tiger fans everywhere will be excited about,” Sterk said in a press release.

Tigers are bowl bound

Saturday night’s 45-17 win over Vanderbilt clinched bowl eligibility for Missouri, ensuring that the Tigers will receive a bid to play in a postseason bowl game this season. With the invite to a bowl game officially in the fold, the potential bowl locations for the Tigers can be narrowed down.

Per SEC bowl selection procedures, there are approximately nine bowl games with SEC tie-ins that the Tigers could be a part of. The Citrus Bowl receives the first pick of non-College Football Playoff teams, followed by the “Group of Six” which includes the Outback Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Music City Bowl, Texas Bowl, Belk Bowl and Liberty Bowl. The next choice goes to the Birmingham Bowl, followed by the Independence Bowl.

The Tigers are currently in the bottom tier of bowl-eligible SEC teams and will be chosen from a crop that includes a number of talented teams with large fanbases. Missouri will likely fall into the bottom half of the “Group of Six” bowls or could possibly be headed to the Birmingham or Independence Bowls.

Over the past several weeks, as Missouri inched closer to bowl eligibility, representatives from several bowls were present to watch the Tigers at games in Columbia and elsewhere. Notably, representatives from the TaxSlayer Bowl and the Liberty Bowl were spotted at multiple Missouri games over the second half of the season.

Okweugbunam named SEC Freshman of the Week

After hauling in two touchdowns to go with 116 yards on five receptions Saturday in the Tigers’ 45-17 victory over Vanderbilt, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was named SEC Freshman of the Week, the conference announced Monday. This is the second time the redshirt freshman has been given the honor this season; he first received the distinction after burning Idaho for three touchdowns on Oct. 21.

Okwuegbunam has now matched Jeremy Maclin’s 2007 freshman receiving touchdown record entering Missouri’s final regular season game with nine. He’ll have the opportunity to set his own record on Friday afternoon when the Tigers take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

With his two touchdowns Saturday night, Okwuegbunam also jumped into a tie for the lead in touchdown receptions among tight ends in the nation; his nine touchdowns on the season leave him tied with Boise State’s Jake Roh. He also finds himself tied for the second-most touchdown receptions in the SEC, alongside teammate J’Mon Moore. The two sit just one score behind Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown, who has 10.

Lock chases down history

With his third touchdown pass Saturday night, junior quarterback Drew Lock moved one step closer to breaking multiple records.

The toss brought Lock’s season total to 38, moving him within one touchdown of tying Chase Daniel’s single-season program record of 39, set in 2008. The junior also now sits just two touchdown passes shy of passing Andre Woodson’s 40-touchdown single-season SEC record, which was set in 2007.

Headed into this week, Lock’s 38 touchdown passes leads the nation, as his consistent performances have helped him jump ahead of some of the nation’s top signal-callers. Four touchdowns ahead of his closest competitor, Lock leads other notables such as West Virginia’s Will Grier, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

With a regular season finale and a bowl game left on the Tigers’ schedule, Lock appears primed to shatter both records and finish the season atop the NCAA leaderboard.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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