Cotton Bowl Primer: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
The Cotton Bowl matches two teams whose seasons ended in disappointment as both had hopes of being in a BCS bowl game. However, for Missouri and Oklahoma State, losses to Auburn and Oklahoma left them out in the cold and forced them to settle for the Cotton Bowl.
If you would have told both teams at the beginning of the season that they'd end up in the Cotton Bowl, both would have been happy to get there. While the focus should be there and the teams are still excited to play in the game, there are still thoughts of what might have been.
It's a game where two teams have played each other multiple times. Missouri (11-2) was once a member of the Big 12 and played Oklahoma State (10-2) on many occasions. In fact, the Tigers hold a 28-23 all-time record against the Cowboys, although Oklahoma State has won the last three meetings.
So, who has the advantage in this matchup?
Motivation: Missouri wants to prove they're not a one-year wonder in the SEC or the fact that it took advantage of a weak SEC East. A win over the Cowboys shows the Tigers they can compete with anybody.
If You Haven't Seen Them: Missouri likes to spread the ball out, mixing in the run and the pass. Quarterback James Franklin has thrown for 2,255 yards and 19 touchdowns this year, although he did miss time for injury. Missouri has a good complement of running backs, Henry Josey (1,074 yards, 13 TDs) and Russell Hansbrough (660 yards, 4 TDs), who can absolutely do damage between the tackles or out in space. Then there are two of the better wide receivers in the conference in L'Damian Washington (853 yards, 10 TDs) and Dorial Green-Beckham (830 yards, 12 TDs), who have done anything and everything this year. Offensively, they can keep up with anyone in the country.
Defensively, it's a crap-shoot after the Tigers gave up 59 points to Auburn in the SEC championship game. But the Tigers also held Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M to 21 points, so there is some stoutness there. They're also averaging 2.9 sacks per game.
Weakness: Missouri is allowing 390 yards per game, which ranks 58th in the country. Of those, 255.8 yards are through the air. There's a bit of weakness in the secondary and is something the Cowboys will no doubt try to exploit.
Motivation: The Cowboys have a sour taste in their mouth after watching their rival take away their BCS hopes and win a BCS game themselves. They want redemption so they can end this season on a good note.
If You Haven't Seen Them: Oklahoma State can score points in bunches if Missouri isn't careful. There is no true go-to receiver as there are four players with at least 30 catches and 400 yards. On the ground, Desmond Rowland (745 yards, 12 TDs) provides a good change of pace, but if the Cowboys are going to score as much as they'd like to, they're going to have to do it through the air.
Defensively, the Cowboys struggle just as much defending the pass, allowing 245.6 yards per game. The Cowboys also have a great turnover margin, ranking fourth in the country at plus-15. That could be the key in this one.
Weakness: The Cowboys don't get much pressure on the quarterback, averaging 1.9 sacks per game. They have to get pressure on Franklin if they hope to win.
Las Vegas Hilton Line: Oklahoma State -2.5.