The Cotton Bowl: Missouri Tigers vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/3/14
Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2) at Missouri Tigers (11-2)
College Football: Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:00 pm (AT&T Stadium)
The Line: Missouri Tigers -1.5 -- Over/Under: 62.5 See the Latest Odds
Storyline: Oklahoma State looked like one of the five best teams in the nation after knocking the luster clean off Baylor and one of the most electric offenses in college football history. But the moment was fleeting and after following with their own uninspired performance against Oklahoma, the 13th-ranked Cowboys knocked themselves right out of the BCS picture. They’ll face a #9 Missouri side, who surprised everyone with a magical run to the SEC title game, in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Friday.
The Breakdown: Ok State began its campaign with a good amount of expectation, a #13 preseason ranking and elite talent on both sides of the ball. But after looking solid in their three opening wins, the Cowboys were upset 30-21 by a struggling West Virginia team that had just been shutout 37-0 by Maryland the week before. Ok State responded by winning its next seven, highlighted by the shocking 49-17 upset of then #4 Baylor, but end the season with a 33-24 upset loss to Oklahoma in the finale.
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The Cowboys finished with pretty good marks all the way around, ranking 29th nationally in passing yards per game (268.5), 13th in scoring offense (39.8 points) 42nd in total yards (440.5), and 63rd in rushing yards (172.0). They’re led by senior QB Clint Chelf (1,792 YDs, 15 TDs, 6 INTs), who started 11 games after sharing time with sophomore J.W. Walsh early on. Ok State didn’t see a whole lot of production this season out of the ground game, only producing a 100-yard rusher in three games, but do have two capable back in junior Desmond Roland (745 YDs, 12 TDs) and senior Jeremy Smith (442 YDs, 9 TDs). And the receiving duo of senior Tracy Moore (44 REC, 638 YDs, 6 TDs) and junior Josh Stewart (52 REC, 623 YDs, 2 TDs) combined for 1,261 yards and 8 TDs. Defensively, the Cowboys rank 12th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 20.0 points per outing and senior CB Justin Gilbert, a second-team All-American with 43 Tkls and 6 INTs, is among this unit's standouts.
Meanwhile, the bulk of Missouri’s run essentially took place under cover of darkness as the Tigers didn’t even show up on anyone’s radar till they upset then #7 Georgia 41-26 in week seven. Missouri would win its next one over #22 Florida and reach the #5 ranking before losing their first game of the season 27-24 to #21 South Carolina in a double overtime thriller. The Tigers' schedule read like a road map littered with ranked teams and they would face three more ranked opponents in their final five, taking out Ole Miss and Texas A&M on their way to a showdown with then #3 Auburn in the SEC title game, ultimately falling 59-42.
Missouri boasts one of the top offenses in the land, ranking 16th nationally in rushing yards per outing (236.5), 16th in points per (39.0), 17th in total yards (492.9) and 41st in passing yards (256.5). Senior QB James Franklin missed four games with a shoulder injury, but still posted impressive numbers, completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 2,255 yards and 19 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. He’ll be joined in the backfield by junior RB Henry Josey (1,074 YDs, 13 TDs), who bounced back from a devastating knee injury in 2011 that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season, and sophomore Russell Hansbrough (660 YDs, 4 TDs). Franklin will have an outstanding receiving corps at his disposal, made up of senior L’Damian Washington and (47 REC, 853 YDs, 10 TDs) and sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham (55 REC, 830 YDs, 12 TDs). The two combined for 1,683 yards and 22 touchdowns. Led by senior DE Michael Sam (10.5 Sacks, 18 TFLs), an AP first team All-American and SEC Defensive player of the year, the Tigers rank 29th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 22.5 points per contest.
Rick’s Pick: The line in this one currently favors Missouri by 1.5 points with a 62.5 point total. Ok State was a real disappointment after looking almost flawless against Baylor, then looking like pretenders against an Oklahoma team the Bears absolutely flattened. These two put up similar numbers and not much separates them statistically, but Missouri gets the nod by virtue of having played six ranked teams and losing handily to just one. Look for the Tigers to cover.
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