The Cotton Bowl is quickly approaching and we’re all excited, anticipating the battle between the Missouri Tigers and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. After an amazing turnaround season (last year’s Tigers were 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the SEC), Missouri this season was a win away from the BCS Title Game. The Tigers defeated five bowl teams and finished 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the SEC, considered the strongest conference in NCAA. However, let’s not focus on what could have been — a Title Game — but what will be: A thrilling Cotton Bowl between former Big 12 conference foes. Here are five reasons Mizzou will beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys:
The Tigers have a nation-leading streak of 43 takeaways. When you take away the ball, you put yourself in a good place to win the game. Mizzou is +16 in turnovers (if you’re new to football, that means Missouri has forced a turnover 29 times while turning it over to the opponent only 13 times). The 1.23 margin/game ranks 6th best in the nation. Look for Kony Ealy and E.J. Gaines to have some fun in this department.
Getting to the Quarterback
Mizzou is one of the best teams in the nation in getting to and sacking the quarterback (they led the SEC in total sacks). With one of the best defensive linemen in the country – Michael Sam leads the team with 10.5 sacks – the Tiger defense can be nightmarish for opposing quarterbacks. It won’t be easy for OSU to stick to its game plan when Sam and company put tremendous pressure on Clint Cheif.
Oklahoma State’s Rush Offense
Remember the Auburn game? Not to bring up a tough memory, but recall how well Auburn was able to rush the ball against the Mizzou defense. From a Tiger fan’s end, it wasn’t pretty. Why did Auburn have so much success? The answer: the triple option (three players who can rush the ball, as opposed to the normal two-back set). I decided to ask my following on Twitter “Why will Mizzou win the Cotton Bowl?” Spencer Engel responded explaining Mizzou’s defense won’t be as tired and unprepared:
Look for the Tigers to be as stout against the run as they’ve been all season. No triple-option ought to mean less trouble for the Tigers.
On the other side of the ball is running back Henry Josey and quarterback James Franklin. Both have contributed to the team’s strong run game. Franklin and Josey, among others, have propelled the team to six games with more than 200 yards rushing. It’s a cliche, but the run game is a powerful asset as it sets up the pass and wears down the defense. Don’t be alarmed by OSU’s run defense. Their team is ranked 22nd nationally in rush defense, but considering they’re 51st in strength of schedule, a strong running team like Mizzou, should pose plenty of problems for the Cowboys. You can certainly look for the Josey-Franklin pair to continue their success against OSU. It’s a big game for both, as Andrew points out:
It’s a big game for the two offensive stars. While many players have their eyes set on the NFL, Josey and Franklin might be two who will show off their NFL talents under national lights.
Spreading Out the Scores
The team can rush, but they win because they can score. Four Tigers have at least 10 touchdowns each: Josey (14), Dorial Green-Beckham (12), L’Damian Washington (10) and Marcus Murphy (10). In other words the Tigers have weapons and can burn OSU multiple ways. The Tiger defense can take it to the house, too; Mizzou scored four defensive touchdowns during the 2013 campaign.
To watch Mizzou battle Oklahoma State, flip the TV to FOX at 7 p.m. CT on Jan. 3.
Places to watch the game...
Places to watch the game...
Written by Daniel Doelling of H&L Partners.