San Antonio, TX – The University of Missouri (9-4) and Northwestern University (9-3) have accepted invitations today to play in the 2008 Valero Alamo Bowl on Monday, December 29 at 7:00 p.m. CST in San Antonio’s 65,000-seat Alamodome. Missouri is ranked #23 and #25 in USA Today and AP polls, respectively, while Northwestern is ranked #20 and #22.
"The Valero Alamo Bowl has a well-deserved reputation for high scoring, competitive games that go down to the wire and deliver top ESPN ratings," said Derrick Fox, Valero Alamo Bowl President and CEO. "This year’s game should be no different as Missouri and Northwestern are Top 25 teams who will put up a lot of points as they battle for the their 10th win."
This will be the ninth time Missouri and Northwestern have faced off on the football field and the first time in 21 years. Missouri won the last meeting 28-3 in Columbia in 1987.
Missouri has never played in the Valero Alamo Bowl, but the team made a San Antonio appearance as the #1 Tigers lost 38-17 to #9 Oklahoma playing in last year’s Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship at the Alamodome.
"We are excited to be playing such a quality game as the Valero Alamo Bowl," Pinkel said. "Going to a great city like San Antonio is a good reward for our team, which has worked very hard and done some great things this season. This game is extremely important for us and we look forward to playing our very best against a very good Northwestern team."
The last time the Alamo Bowl matched two Top 25 teams against each other was in 2000 when #8 Nebraska beat #19 Northwestern 66-17 in the Wildcats only San Antonio appearance.
"We're extremely proud of our football team, which enjoyed one of the best regular seasons in Northwestern history," said head coach Pat Fitzgerald. "We're proud to represent the Big Ten in San Antonio at the Valero Alamo Bowl. We are playing one of the nation's top teams in Missouri, which won the Big 12 North Division and played in its conference championship game. We can't wait to get to San Antonio."
This year's game will be the 16th installment of the Valero Alamo Bowl. Since 1995, the game has matched the Big Ten and the Big 12 Conferences. This combination has produced eight of the Top 25 most-watched games in ESPN bowl history and has averaged a 4.5 rating.
"We're looking forward to welcoming Missouri and Northwestern to San Antonio and the Valero Alamo Bowl," said Mike Ciskowski, Valero Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. "Valero and the Alamo Bowl are two San Antonio based institutions that provide support for higher education, drive tourist activities and deliver a strong economic impact to the City of San Antonio. We can't wait to see the Riverwalk full of black and purple as the loyal Tiger and Wildcat fans come to town to support their teams.
Missouri in 2008: After a loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, the Tigers enter the Valero Alamo Bowl with a 9-4 record. Missouri ranks in the top three of the Big 12 in 11 statistical categories, including scoring offense and scoring defense.
First Time for Everything: This will be Missouri's first appearance in the bowl and ninth game against Northwestern. The Tigers last played in the Alamodome in the 2007 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship.
Tiger Tradition: This is the 119th season for Missouri football with an overall record of 590-506-52. The Tigers have produced 28 first-team All-Americans, including NFL legend Kellen Winslow and 11 conference championships before merging with the Big 12 in 1996.
Missouri goes Bowling: This will be the 26th bowl appearance for the Tigers. They have a record of 11-14 overall in bowl appearances and have played in 13 different bowls.
Featured Players: Quarterback Chase Daniel returned to Columbia this season in anticipation of leading the Tigers back to the Big 12 Championship after falling short against Oklahoma in the 2007 Championship game in San Antonio. Daniel did just that leading Missouri to a 9-3 regular season and a berth in the 2008 Big 12 Championship.
This season Daniel and the Tigers performed an offensive assault on the Big 12 Conference, finishing second in the Big 12 in scoring with an average of 45 points per game. The Tigers also averaged 509 yards per game offensively. Daniel led the way for the offense, finishing fourth in the nation with 4,135 passing yards, a pace of 318 yards per game. He also added 37 touchdowns.
Much like in 2007, Daniel's favorite targets proved to be his dependable tight end Chase Coffman and explosive Tiger receiver Jeremy Maclin. Coffman has 83 catches for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while Maclin has 95 catches for 1,221 yards and 12 TDs. The speedy sophomore receiver also leads the nation in all-purpose yards.
On the other side of the ball Missouri proved to be just effective, finishing second in the Big 12 in scoring defense as the Tigers allowed just under 26 points per game. Junior defensive back Sean Weatherspoon led the Tiger defense with 138 tackles (15 for a loss). Missouri also was helped by the defensive line performance of Stryker Sulak who had 8.5 sacks this season.
Texas Grown: Missouri has 28 Texas natives on their roster, including eight starters.
Tiger Leadership: Missouri is led by eight year head coach Gary Pinkel who has led the Tigers to a 58-41 record during his tenure. Pinkel is 21-6 in his last two seasons at the helm.
Northwestern in 2008: The Wildcats finished the season with a 9-3 record. Northwestern ranks in the top three of the Big Ten in four statistical categories including red zone defense and third down conversion percentage.
Second Time Around: This will be Northwestern's second appearance in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Wildcats are 0-1 in the bowl, falling to Nebraska in the 2000 Alamo Bowl 66-17.
Wildcat Tradition: This is the 120th season for Northwestern football with an overall record of 457-611-44. The Wildcats have produced 38 first-team All-Americans and eight Big Ten Titles.
Northwestern goes Bowling: This will be the seventh bowl appearance for the Wildcats. They have a record of 1-5 overall and have appeared in five different bowl games. However, they have lost their last five with the last win coming in the Rose Bowl at the end of the 1948 season.
Featured Players: Injuries forced Northwestern to be led by a bevy of different offensive players this season, but all had bright spots for the Wildcats.
Quarterback C.J. Bacher led the team for the majority of the season, throwing for 1,898 yards and 12 touchdowns, while backup Mike Kafka also saw time with 330 yards passing and 413 yards rushing. Bacher is now healthy and looking to regain the form he showed in 2007 when he finished second in the Big Ten in passing with more than 3,600 yards.
On the ground, Northwestern largely turned to back Tyrell Sutton who rushed for 806 yards and six TDs before going down with an injury. In his stead Omar Conteh ran for 271 yards and Stephen Simmons ran for 178 yards and two TDs.
Defensively the Wildcats exhibited a knack for keeping opposing teams out of the endzone as they finished fourth in the Big Ten, allowing 19.3 points per game. Leading the Northwestern defense was Brad Phillips who finished tied for fifth in the Big Ten with 101 tackles. Meanwhile, Cory Wootton paced the Wildcats in sacks with nine. Wootton's performance this season earned him first team All-Big Ten honors.
Wildcat Leadership: Northwestern is led by third year head coach Pat Fitzgerald who has led the Wildcats to a 19-17 record during his tenure. Fitzgerald is also a former Northwestern player and received the Nagurski and Bednarik Awards as a linebacker for the Wildcats. Fitzgerald is being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday.