Gary Pinkel and Missouri deserve your respect. They didn’t have to play a home-and-home series, a virtually dead practice between power conference and mid-major conference teams. They didn't have to play at the Glass Bowl, they didn't have to agree to matching game bonuses, and they didn't have to risk their season playing a dangerous nonconference game. But they did.
There’s almost no benefit for Missouri. A loss will boot the Tigers from the top 25 and any hope of the four-team playoff. A victory won't earn much credit; they’re supposed to win. Most power conference football teams wouldn’t be caught dead playing a program like Toledo on the road, especially one like Missouri, which has all the strength-of-schedule it needs in the SEC, and especially for Pinkel, whose Tigers were humiliated in 2002 at Bowling Green.
Many power program coaches would sooner send a MAC school to sea than view them as a peer. Not Pinkel. On Saturday, he'll try to win at the Glass Bowl, like he has done so many times before, for the sake of accepting a challenge. The UT-Missouri series isn't about perception. Both schools entered into the contract because they think it will be beneficial to both parties, and simpler than that, it will produce good football. In the current age of college football, isn’t that refreshing?