Missouri football to face Ohio State in Cotton Bowl

Missouri teammates Johnny Walker Jr. (left) and Nyles Gaddy celebrate after a big play during last month’s game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. (Associated Press)
Missouri teammates Johnny Walker Jr. (left) and Nyles Gaddy celebrate after a big play during last month’s game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. (Associated Press)

COLUMBIA -- Missouri didn’t have long to wait long Sunday during the FBS bowl selection show.

With the Cotton Bowl the first announced, the Tigers learned they would play Ohio State on Dec. 29, marking the Tigers’ first New Year’s Six bowl appearance since 2013, when the Tigers played Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.

“What a tremendous honor to be selected for the New Year’s Six,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “Just very appreciative to the committee and what a tremendous matchup with Ohio State in a great location in Dallas.”

The game will be played at AT&T Stadium, also known as Jerry World, the home stadium of the Dallas Cowboys.

The matchup will be the first time the Tigers and Buckeyes have faced off since Sept. 19, 1998, when Ohio State beat Missouri 35-14. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 10-1-1.

“It’s gonna be a really tough challenge,” Drinkwitz said. “That’s gonna be a great challenge. I know our team is excited for the quality of opponent. Obviously, they have some really good players.”

This marks the fourth consecutive year the Tigers were selected for a bowl and the third straight they will play in after the cancellation of the Music City Bowl in 2020. But the Tigers were .500 each of the past three seasons, earning bowl eligibility in the final couple of weeks, now Missouri is in a prime-time bowl.

“It’s a remarkable feeling,” Drinkwitz said. “At the start of the year, there was a poll about whether we would even make a bowl game. And instead, we’re one of the top 10 teams in the country and going to a New Year’s Six. That doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work, a lot of belief and a lot of determination.”

Missouri opened the season 5-0 before dropping matchups against LSU and Georgia and rose up the ranks throughout the season with ranked wins against Kansas State, Kentucky and Tennessee. Missouri will go into the bowl game on a three-game winning streak.

Ohio State spent most of the season ranked in the top four, aiming for a playoff spot through the season until a 30-24 loss to top-ranked Michigan during rivalry week.

“We’ve been fortunate to have the national spotlight, really from the start of November,” Drinkwitz said. “So this is just the opportunity to have a capstone, but we’ve got to capitalize on it. You don’t want to be on the national stage and not perform at your best.”