DALLAS Colorful confetti flip-flopping around him, fans in black and gold chanting his name, Tony Temple and his Missouri teammates were basking in a terrific ending to a magical season.
Only one thing was wrong the setting. See, this was the Cotton Bowl, not the national championship game they were a win away from reaching, and it wasn't the Orange, Fiesta or Sugar Bowl like they thought they deserved.
Motivated instead of deflated, the guys from the "Show-Me State" did their best to prove they belonged in the BCS by routing Darren McFadden and Arkansas 38-7 on Tuesday. Temple led the way, rushing for 281 yards and four touchdowns, both records in the 72-year history of the Cotton Bowl.
"We were upset for a couple of days," said Martin Rucker, Missouri's All-American tight end. "We just felt we'd deserved, we'd earned to be in the BCS. But the Cotton Bowl is a great bowl and we were honored to be in it."
Mizzou (12-2) was ranked No. 1 after beating Kansas in the regular season finale, then lost badly to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game so badly that the Jayhawks wound up with an at-large berth into the Orange Bowl.
Coach Gary Pinkel kept his team's spirits up by having them put together a list of reasons why Dallas was a great place to spend New Year's Day. Recruiting and appeasing their largest out-of-state alumni base likely were near the top.
"They found out what a great game the Cotton Bowl is and then embraced it," Pinkel said.
Properly focused, the only thing left for the Tigers was figuring out that No. 25 Arkansas (8-5) had loaded its defense with cornerbacks and safeties to neutralize Missouri's Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback, Chase Daniel.
Temple cracked the code pretty early, finding no linebackers after he broke the line of scrimmage in the first half. He had three carries of 22 yards, a 38-yarder and a 41-yarder as part of his 159 yards and two touchdowns by half.