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Former No. 1 Missouri gets Cotton Bowl bid vs. Arkansas

DALLAS -- Left out of the BCS after losing the Big 12
championship game and its No. 1 ranking, Missouri is going to the
Cotton Bowl for only the second time.

The Tigers (No. 6 BCS, No. 7 AP) will play Arkansas (Unranked BCS, No. 25 AP) in Dallas on New Year's Day. Missouri's only other Cotton
Bowl appearance was in 1946, while the Razorbacks will be there for
the 11th time.

Missouri (11-2) missed a chance to play for its first national
championship after a 38-17 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12
championship game Saturday night. That guaranteed the Sooners a
spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

While the Tigers play on New Year's Day for the first time since
1970, an accomplishment in itself, Illinois and Kansas -- two teams
that Missouri beat this season and finished higher than in the
final BCS standings released Sunday -- will play in BCS bowls.

Missouri was sixth in the final BCS standings, two spots ahead
of Kansas and seven above Illinois. The Tigers are the only team in
the top 10 of the BCS standings not going to one of the five
biggest games.

"I don't think this is the time to evaluate the BCS and what
went on there," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Sunday night.
"We're excited about going to the Cotton Bowl. Our players are
excited about it. Certainly, it's an honor for us to be there."

Kansas (11-1), which finished as the Big 12 North runner-up
after losing its regular season finale to Missouri, will play
Virginia Tech (11-2) in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. Illinois (9-3)
faces Southern California (10-2) in the Rose Bowl on New Year's
Day.

Oklahoma (11-2) is playing West Virginia (10-2) in the Fiesta
Bowl on Jan. 2.

Pinkel admirably masked his team's disappointment about missing
out on the BCS. This is their third straight bowl, and fourth in
five years.

"This is a very prestigious bowl with a rich tradition,"
Pinkel said. "Our players and staff are excited about being a part
of it."

Arkansas (8-4,
4-4 SEC) ended its regular season by beating then-No. 1 LSU in
triple overtime on Nov. 23.

Three days after the Razorbacks beat LSU, which will play in the
BCS national championship game, coach Houston Nutt resigned then
accepted a job at Mississippi. Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring
will serve as interim coach in the Cotton Bowl.

"At the end of the game, there will be lives changing,
different directions," Herring said. "I want to assure the Cotton
Bowl that every player, every coach involved at the University of
Arkansas will be totally focused on a great Cotton Bowl. That's got
to be our focus, and that's what we're going to do."

The Razorbacks haven't been to the Cotton Bowl since 2002, but
this is their third in 10 years.

For Cotton Bowl officials, it's an exciting matchup: teams from
bordering states and two of the nation's best offensive players.
Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel will play not far from his home
in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Arkansas running back
Darren McFadden, the SEC's rushing leader and 2006 Heisman runner-up.

By Sunday night, the Cotton Bowl was already sold out. The only
tickets remaining were those allocated to each school, and those
won't last long.

Missouri and Arkansas last played in the 2003 Independence Bowl,
when the Razorbacks won 27-14. But this will be only their fifth
game, a series that dates back to 1906.