A slow start gave way to a bushel of points in the 2014 Cotton Bowl, with the Missouri Tigers eventually beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 41-31, for their 12th win of the year. Not bad a bad way to represent your conference, Gary Pinkel. Not bad at all.
Neither team was able to score until Missouri cashed in on an 11-play, 50-yard touchdown drive late in the first quarter. Tiger quarterback James Franklin -- who started the game by completing just two of his first 12 passes -- settled down enough to string a pair of completions, some solid runs by Henry Josey, and an Oklahoma State facemask penalty into seven points.
Cowboy wide receiver Josh Stewart went on to tie the game just 1:16 later, scoring from 40 yards out on a ridiculous catch-and-run.
Neither team scored again until Maty Mauk came in for a change of pace series -- and it was quite the change of pace. Within three plays of entering the game, the freshman quarterback already had 69 total rushing yards. Within nine, he had the Tigers up a by seven, having thrown a 24-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lucas. Pinkel put Franklin back in the game after that, and the senior rewarded him with a field goal drive right before the half, making it 17-7 in favor of the Tigers.
The Tigers continued to lead by that score through most of the third quarter, despite Franklin's erratic play and general ineffectiveness in moving the ball -- at one point, his stat line read 10-of-30 passing for 93 yards and an interception. In fact, after going up 17-7, the Franklin-led Missouri offense stalled in place, going three and out on three consecutive third-quarter possessions.
Their fourth went even worse, with Franklin fumbling a handoff that Oklahoma State recovered at the Missouri 33. Three plays later, Clint Chelf found Jhajuan Seales for a 21-yard touchdown, slicing the deficit to 17-14. They would tie it up at 17-17 thanks to a second Missouri fumble.
Josey then sprinted in from 25 yards out to give the Tigers back a seven-point cushion, although that margin did not last long. Using a 23-yard touchdown run by Chelf, Oklahoma State tied the game again. They even appeared to take a 31-24 lead on a pick-six of James Franklin, but that play was called back for pass interference. Instead, the Tigers drove for a second Andrew Baggett field goal, making the score 27-24.
Desmond Roland and Josey traded touchdowns after that, preserving the three-point Missouri lead. The Tigers only clinched the victory with 55 seconds to play, when Chelf was sacked and stripped from behind by Michael Sam, ending a potential game-winning drive. Shane Ray returned it 73 yards for a touchdown, and the final margin of 41-31.
Box Score Hero: Josey didn't reach the century mark in this one, but his three touchdowns keyed Missouri's victory.
Rankings Ramifications: Missouri is sure to see a slight bump in its rankings at season's end, courtesy of losses by Ohio State, Alabama, Stanford and Baylor.
But Did They Cover? Oklahoma State was a three-point favorite at kickoff. They did not cover.