For both Missouri and Oklahoma State, the 2014 Cotton Bowl is a step down from what the schools had in mind. Both had a chance to win their conference championship in the final game and came up short.
As a result, the No. 9 Tigers and No. 13 Cowboys will face off in the Cotton Bowl on Friday, Jan. 3 in Arlington, Texas.
Although these programs did not face each other this season, they have a long history. These two schools have met 51 times from Missouri's time in the Big 12.
Now, the Tigers have moved on to the SEC, and after struggling in their transition season last year, they are thriving. Missouri advanced to the SEC Championship Game before falling to No. 2 Auburn. This doesn't seem to have robbed the Tigers of their enthusiasm:
SEC players go wild over Cotton Bowl gifts http://t.co/1fOQgnnH0f— For The Win (@forthewin) December 24, 2013
Losing the conference championship game had to be a bitter pill to swallow, but not as bitter as the one Oklahoma State was forced to choke down.
As the sixth-ranked team in the nation, the Cowboys fell to in-state rival Oklahoma in their final game. The Cowboys are trying to put that championship-losing effort behind them.
"It was an upsetting loss but we can't dwell on it. It's the past," Oklahoma State senior running back Kye Staley said via the Associated Press (h/t FoxNews.com). "We didn't even watch film, we just go on to the next team. We're very excited to play Missouri, an SEC team, in Dallas. ... You can't look behind you."
All of this sets up for what should be a well-played and entertaining game. The leaders of each school's state seem to think so:
Here are the vitals for this entertaining matchup:
When: Friday, Jan. 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Betting Line (via Bovada): Missouri -1.5
Team Injury Reports (via USA Today)
Source: USA Today
Source: USA Today
Key Storyline: Can Missouri End Its Skid Against Oklahoma State?
The Tigers have a 28-23 edge in the all-time history of this rivalry, but the Cowboys have won the last three meetings.
The Tigers have the talent to end that streak.
Were it not for Auburn running away late in the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers, in all likelihood, would be playing for the national championship. Missouri has a strong defense and running game, and senior quarterback James Franklin gives them a steady leader in the pocket who has been battle-tested in the tough SEC.
Still, it won't be easy for Missouri. The Cowboys are excellent on offense and defense. In fact, they are one of just two teams to be ranked in the top 15 in both scoring offense and defense.
The Cowboys are more dangerous through the air, but they have solid balance on offense. Nationally, they rank 29th in passing and 64th in rushing. Conversely, Missouri's offense is 40th in passing and 16th in rushing
Prediction: Missouri 42, Oklahoma State 34
This game will be a blast. I see both of the offenses taking over and a shootout ensuing. This will play into the hands of Missouri. The Tigers have a stronger rushing attack, which will allow them to control possession in the fourth quarter and wear the Cowboys down.