KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With two weeks remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision’s regular season, only one Kansas City-area team is assured of bowl eligibility.
Kansas State (7-3), which is riding a four-game streak into Saturday’s showdown with No. 11 Baylor at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, is assured of going bowling for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons and 22nd time in the last 29 seasons.
Missouri (5-5) still has a chance to make a bowl game with a win Saturday against Florida or Friday, Nov. 26, at No. 21 Arkansas. There’s also a chance the Tigers could get picked based on the team’s APR if there aren’t enough qualifiers for all available bowl slots.
Notwithstanding a remarkable overtime win at Texas last week, Kansas (2-8) will not attend a bowl for the 13th straight season.
Kansas State breakdown
This season, Chris Kleiman has become the only coach in K-State football history aside from Bill Snyder to lead the program to multiple bowl games.
He’s only the fourth coach — along with Jim Dickey (1982) and Ron Prince (2006) — to lead the Wildcats to any bowl appearance.
If Kleiman can lead K-State to a victory during the upcoming bowl season, he’ll join Snyder as the only coaches in program history to win a postseason game.
The Wildcats are 9-13 all-time in bowl games, including 9-10 under Snyder.
Kansas State lost in the 2019 Liberty Bowl during Kleiman’s first season and missed out on a bowl game during the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season.
During its first 81 seasons, K-State went to one bowl game, losing the 1982 Independence Bowl to Wisconsin.
Snyder’s arrival in 1989 turned things around.
After missing out on a bowl game the first four years, Snyder’s Wildcats went to 11 straight bowl games from 1993 to 2003.
He retired in 2005 after back-to-back bowl-free seasons, and his successor, Prince, led K-State to a loss in the Texas Bowl during his first season at the helm.
Two disappointing 5-7 seasons followed before Snyder returned from retirement and led the Wildcats to eight straight bowl games — and a 3-5 record in those games — before missing out on a bowl game in 2018 and retiring again.
Bowl outlook: With a win over Baylor on Saturday, the Texas Bowl and possibly even the Alamo Bowl seem like the most likely destinations for Kleiman’s Wildcats.
Given the reputation for how well K-State fans travel, a 9-3 squad that is riding a six-game win streak — even if that’s not enough to earn a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game — would be an attractive team for any bowl to land.
That scenario also assumes a win against a reeling Texas that needs to sweep West Virginia and Kansas State to be bowl eligible.
If Kansas State splits to finish 8-4 overall, the Texas Bowl would remain a possibility on the upper end with the Cheez-It Bowl against an ACC foe on Wednesday, Dec. 29, in Orlando, Florida, or the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against a Big Ten team on Tuesday, Dec. 28, in Phoenix being the next most likely options.
The Alamo Bowl would be against a Pac-12 opponent on Dec. 29 in San Antonio, Texas, while the Texas Bowl would be against an SEC opponent on Tuesday, Jan. 4, in Houston.
Projected bowl game: Cheez-It Bowl
Missouri has made 33 bowl appearances, posting a 15-18 record all-time, but the Tigers have work to do to make it for the first time under second-year coach Eli Drinkwitz.
During his first two seasons as a head coach — 2019 at Appalachian State and last season at Mizzou — Drinkwitz’s teams have qualified for bowl games, but he has never coached in a bowl game.
His Appalachian State team played in the New Orleans Bowl after Drinkwitz had been hired by MU, while the Tigers finished 5-5 and qualified for the Music City Bowl against Iowa only to have the game canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.
Mizzou is 5-5 again and faces a struggling Florida team, which has lost three of the last four games. The lone win during that stretch was a 70-52 win against Samford last week.
Bowl outlook: If the Tigers can win one of the remaining two games, the Birmingham Bowl or Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl seem like the most likely destinations, but the Liberty Bowl also could be in play, especially if two SEC teams make the College Football Playoff.
MU would face an American Athletic Conference, ACC or Pac-12 team in the Gasparilla Bowl — set for Thursday, Dec. 23, in Tampa, Florida — while the opponent tie-in for the Birmingham Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 28, in Alabama’s largest metropolitan area would be against an American Athletic Conference foe.
Projected bowl game: Birmingham Bowl