'Boys, Tigers clash in Cotton
January 2, 2014
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Cotton Bowl (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Matchup: Oklahoma State (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Missouri (11-2 SU, 10-2-1 ATS)
Venue: AT&T Stadium
Location: Arlington, TX
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oklahoma State -1.5, 61
Former Big 12 rivals square off in Friday's Cotton Bowl as No. 13 Oklahoma State faces No. 9 Missouri in Arlington, TX.
The Cowboys went into their final regular season game with a chance to win the Big 12 and earn a BCS berth. However, a loss to rival Oklahoma gave the conference title to Baylor, and put OSU into the Cotton Bowl. Despite that loss, the Cowboys (8-4 ATS) still had an impressive season, and they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
Last season, Missouri struggled to a 2-6 conference record in its first season in the mighty SEC, but head coach Gary Pinkel has turned the club around, going 11-2 (both SU and ATS), and won the SEC East before falling 59-42 in the title game to Auburn. But Pinkel has led the Tigers to a 15-3 ATS mark (80%) after a loss by 17+ points in his tenure with the school.
However, Mike Gundy has posted a 50-22 ATS mark (69%) when favored as the head coach of Oklahoma State.
These former conference rivals have split their past 10 meetings (SU and ATS) since 1995, but the Cowboys won each of the past three matchups (SU and ATS), including a 45-24 blowout win at Missouri when they last met in 2011. Both teams have great offenses, combining for 78.8 PPG and 933 total YPG, making the key to winning the Cotton Bowl being which team can make the stops on defense.
The Cowboys throughout the years have been known as an offensive juggernaut, and this season was not any different. Oklahoma State ranks 13th in the nation in scoring (39.8 PPG) behind a balanced offensive attack that gains 269 passing YPG on 7.5 YPA and 172 rushing YPG on 4.4 YPC. Senior QB Clint Chelf (1,792 pass yards, 7.7 YPA, 15 TD, 6 INT) regained his starting job after struggling early in the season, and has the ability to make plays with both his arm, as well as his legs, rushing for 321 yards (6.1 YPC) and six touchdowns.
He has a terrific duo on the outside, as WRs Tracy Moore (44 catches, 638 yards, 6 TD) and Josh Stewart (52 catches, 623 yards, 2 TD) complement each other very well. Moore is a big, strong receiver that is able to make the tough catches over the middle of the field, while Stewart is a dynamic player that has the ability to make people miss in the open field and take the ball the distance.
The ground game is propelled by RBs Desmond Roland (745 rush yards, 4.7 YPC, 12 TD) and Jeremy Smith (442 rush yards, 3.8 YPC, 9 TD), who combined for 186 rushing yards in the last game versus Oklahoma. However, what has made Oklahoma State better this season is the vast improvement of the defense (20.0 PPG, 12th in nation), a unit that has been the weakness for the Cowboys in the past few seasons.
This year, OSU has allowed 378 total YPG, broken down into 246 passing YPG (5.9 YPA) and 133 rushing YPG (3.5 YPC). The star on defense is senior CB Justin Gilbert (40 tackles) who has six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. While he is a terrific defensive player, he is equally as dynamic in the return game. But he'll have his hands full with the tall and athletic Missouri wideouts.
Gilbert figures to see a lot of time against guys like long-named Missouri WRs Dorial Green-Beckham (55 catches, 830 yards, 12 TD) and L'Damian Washington (47 catches, 853 yards, 10 TD) who stand 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-4, respectively. The man that feeds the large receivers is senior QB James Franklin (2,255 pass yards, 8.1 YPA, 19 TD, 5 INT) who has made terrific strides throughout his career at Missouri, leading his team to 39.0 PPG (16th in nation) on 257 passing YPG (39th in FBS) and 237 rushing YPG (16th in nation). He used to be known as a scrambler, but while he still has the ability to run and make plays (474 rush yards, 4.5 YPC, 4 TD) defenses have to worry about him throwing the ball downfield. But he will be looking for redemption from that 2011 loss to Oklahoma State when he finished 14-of-27 for 184 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT.
With Green-Beckham and Washington grabbing a lot of the focus of opposing defenses, senior RB Henry Josey (1074 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns with an average of 6.6 yards per carry) has had a terrific year. Josey has had a tough career having to battle with multiple ACL injuries, but he didn't show any signs of injury when he last faced the Cowboys in 2011, rushing for 138 yards on 25 carries (5.5 YPC).
On defense, Missouri allows just 22.5 PPG (29th in FBS), but allows 407 total YPG 255 passing YPG (6.5 YPA) and 152 rushing YPG (4.2 YPC). In the SEC title loss to Auburn, the Tigers surrendered 545 rushing yards on 74 carries (7.4 YPC), plus 132 more yards through the air. But they have forced at least one turnover in all 13 games this year, totaling 29 takeaways.
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