Cotton Bowl preview and predictions: Missouri vs Oklahoma State

The Missouri Tigers will meet the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday in the Cotton Bowl.

Missouri is just two years removed from leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, as coach Gary Pinkel’s squad takes on an old conference foe at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The Tigers and Cowboys last met in 2011, with Oklahoma State coming out on top, 45-24.

In Missouri’s last outing, the Tigers surrendered an eye-popping 59 points to Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. The poor performance was highly uncharacteristic of Pinkel’s defense, which was consistently impressive for most of the regular season.

In order to bounce back against a potent Cowboys offense, Missouri will look to its outstanding pair of pass rushers. Defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam combined for 15.5 sacks this season, and significant contributions will be needed from them if the Tigers are to slow down Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf.

On offense, Missouri will look to quarterback James Franklin to generate points. Franklin has two NFL prototypes at wide receiver in Dorial Green-Beckham and L’Damian Washington. The duo has racked up 22 receiving touchdowns in 2013, but they’ll be tested in Dallas by one of the nation’s top cornerbacks.

Oklahoma State defensive back Justin Gilbert will see one-on-one face time with both Green-Beckham and Washington, and will look to make a statement against some top-notch opposition.

In the coaching matchup, Pinkel and Cowboys coach Mike Gundy are already familiar with one another’s tendencies. These two coaches are exceptional game planners, and with a month to prepare, they’ve both had adequate time to find the holes in the opposing defensive units.

Prediction:

Expect lots of points in this one. Both offenses are loaded with playmakers, but Missouri’s ability to rush the passer will be key. Look for Sam and Ealy to disrupt the Cowboys’ passing game enough to make a few stops, and for Franklin to have an outstanding day through the air for the Tigers. Missouri 38, Oklahoma State 30. 

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.