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Around the Columns

Next Stop: San Antonio

Story by Marcus Wilkins/Photos by Nicholas Benner

KANSAS CITY ⎯ The 2008 football season has been an emotional ride for Missouri players, as high hopes gave way to gut-wrenching defeats. In the Big 12 Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 6, 2008, the Tigers (9-4) learned there is room for improvement in a 62-21 loss to the No. 2-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (12-1).

But it has also been a season that has given Mizzou fans a taste of where they would like to be. As the team heads to San Antonio for the Valero Alamo Bowl Dec. 29 against No. 22 Northwestern, there is no doubt the bar has been set higher for Coach Gary Pinkel’s Tigers.

“We have not yet arrived. I’ve said that often,” he affirmed after the Oklahoma loss. “Until we win a Big 12 Championship, we have not arrived.”

It was Missouri’s offensive explosiveness that highlighted the 2008 season. A 52-17 dismantling of Nebraska on Oct. 4 was the first Tiger victory at Lincoln in 30 years. They put on an even better show Homecoming weekend when they shut out Colorado 58-0. The season marked the first time Mizzou has captured back-to-back Big 12 North championships — as well as nine-win seasons — in school history.

After a 40-37 loss to rival Kansas on Nov. 29, Missouri fans were disappointed with the home stretch of what many hoped would be a dream season. But supporters expressed optimism about the direction of the football program in general.

Before the opener against Illinois, season ticket sales surpassed the 40,000 mark to shatter the previous record of 34,878 set in 2004. Richard and Cathy Demarest of St. Joseph, Mo., said high expectations for the 2008 season were a positive thing.

“That’s one of the reasons why we bought season tickets to both home and away games this year,” Richard said. “We haven’t missed a game!”

Tiger fans are invited to join the Mizzou Alumni Association for the Official Alamo Bowl Tour Dec. 28–30. Fans may also order over the phone by calling 1-800-CAT-PAWS (884-PAWS in Columbia), but are strongly encouraged to order online to ensure prompt service.

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