The Arkansas Razorbacks and the Missouri Tigers accepted the Cotton Bowl Classic's invitation to play in the bowl game on January 1. This was the Arkansas Razorbacks' 11th appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic (with a record of 3-6-1 in previous Cotton Bowl Classics) and the second appearance for the Missouri Tigers (0-1). Many Missouri fans felt insulted that the Tigers had been sent to the Cotton Bowl Classic instead of a BCS bowl after a stunning season that included a spot atop the AP College Football Rankings and a co-championship in the Big XII North. This feeling was amplified by the fact that the Kansas Jayhawks, Missouri's historical and then-conference rival, had been invited to the BCS Orange Bowl after being beaten by the Tigers at the annual Arrowhead Stadium Border Showdown in Kansas City, Missouri.
This was the first of two sideline reporting assignments for Fox Sports' Jeanne Zelasko. She also has a reporting assignment at the Orange Bowl, then she will leave the network to undergo treatments for thyroid cancer.