Tigers selected to take on Texas Longhorns in Texas Bowl

The Tigers will travel to Houston to play Texas for the first time since November 2011 on Dec. 27.

Maneater File Photo

After widespread speculation in the weeks since Missouri clinched bowl eligibility in its win over Vanderbilt on Nov. 18, the 7-5 Tigers finally learned their postseason fate Sunday.

Missouri will face a former rival when it travels to Houston to take on the Texas Longhorns in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl at 8 p.m. CT on Dec. 27 at NRG Stadium on ESPN.

For the Tigers, the game will mark the team’s first bowl appearance since the 2015 Citrus Bowl, when a Gary Pinkel-led Missouri squad took down Minnesota 33-17. It will also serve as the first bowl appearance for Missouri’s second-year head coach Barry Odom.

On Sunday evening, Odom talked about the importance of reaching a bowl game for his players and the program as a whole.

“You always want to be in postseason play, not only to reward and make memories for your current team and your exiting seniors, but also for the opportunity to continue to build that program with all the different things you can do now in the month of December with your program,” Odom said.

Missouri enters the contest with Texas (6-6) 15-16 in bowl games all time and will make its first appearance in a postseason game in Texas since the 2014 Cotton Bowl. The game in Houston will also mark Missouri’s second appearance in the Texas Bowl after the Tigers fell to Navy 35-13 in 2009.

Athletic director Jim Sterk echoed Odom’s sentiments Sunday, commending the players and the coaching staff for the turnaround the team experienced over the season’s final six games.

“I’m so excited and proud of the way that they’ve finished the season and our coaches for keeping everyone focused,” Sterk said. “It’s really to fun to be in this point of time.”

The Longhorns hold the advantage in the all-time series with the Tigers 17-6, though Missouri beat Texas 17-5 when the two teams last met on Nov. 12, 2011.

Odom, who played his first career game came against the Longhorns in 1996, has faced Texas a number of times in his career both as a player and as a coach. He acknowledged that while Missouri and Texas are no longer conference rivals, his players would be educated on what it means to take on the Longhorns.

“There’s a lot of history between Texas and Missouri, obviously, and I’ve been part of a lot of that,” Odom said. “We’ve got respect for everybody we play, but there’ll be plenty of information that our team receives. I’m a firm believer for making sure our guys are prepared in every situation, and that they know who our opponent is and what they’re about.”

Texas opened the season ranked as the No. 23 team in the nation but quickly fell after early losses to Maryland and USC. While the Longhorns showed flashes of talent throughout the season, they ultimately limped to a 6-6 record under first-year head coach Tom Herman while going up against the nation’s 16th toughest schedule.

While the recruiting trail, the uncertainty surrounding Drew Lock’s future at Missouri and other factors remain in the back of his mind, Odom’s focus falls solely on the game ahead.

“We’ve got a chance to go get win number eight, and that’s huge for us as we move forward.”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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