Both the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys and No. 8 Missouri Tigers will look to turn things around when the rivals meet in the 2014 edition of the Cotton Bowl.
While not the most high-profile game of the bowl season, this one is going to be a must-see contest, as these two schools know each other all too well from Missouri's Big 12 days.
In fact, the Cowboys and Tigers have clashed 51 times prior to entering the Cotton Bowl. Even better, both teams tout elite offenses not only familiar with one another, but also capable of scoring in bunches in impressive fashion.
Oklahoma State is seeking redemption after a loss to then-ranked No. 18 Oklahoma to close the year, as the Sooners scored with 19 seconds left to ruin the Cowboys' season.
Missouri did much of the same to end their season, but on a much bigger scale—the Tigers lost in the SEC Championship to then-ranked No. 3 Auburn. As a result, the Tigers will be watching from home as Auburn gets to partake in the national championship.
In other words, both teams will come out firing to end their seasons on a high note.
For Missouri, the name of the game is a balanced attack. Former Heisman contender James Franklin threw for 2,255 yards and 19 scores his senior year, all while missing four games due to injury.
Franklin is flanked by star back Henry Josey, who rushed for 1,074 yards and 13 touchdowns on an impressive 6.6-per-carry average. The junior has a pretty simple motivation for beating Oklahoma State, as captured by David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune:
Henry Josey, on Missouri's motivation for the Cotton Bowl: "We love winning."— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) December 30, 2013
In order to do so, Franklin and Josey will have to be at their best to make up for a defense that allows an average of 22.5 points per game. While that does not sound like a lot, Oklahoma State ranks in the top 15 with an average of 39.8 scored per game (the Tigers score 39 on average).
Watch for Franklin to find success by spamming the ball to senior receiver L'Damian Washington and sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham—they were his favorite targets during the season and combined for 1,683 receiving yards and 22 scores in 2013.
Oklahoma State's offense will also be able to move the ball through the air on the Tigers defense. The combo of senior quarterback Clint Chelf (1,792 yards and 15 scores) and junior J.W. Walsh (1,333 and nine) have been effective in orchestrating one of the nation's top attacks.
The Cowboys utilize a committee approach on the ground, with two running backs having more than 400 rushing yards this year. Three players scored six or more rushing touchdowns, including Chelf—the team's third-highest rusher.
But do not think because this rivalry features two high-flying offenses that it lacks for star power on the defensive side of things.
The Cowboys tout an elite corner by the name of Justin Gilbert, who is likely destined for the first round of the 2014 NFL draft—he ranks as the No. 3 corner in the class over at CBS Sports.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy agrees, per Dave Matter of St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Gundy on Justin Gilbert vs DGB: "You're looking at two potential first-rounders."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) December 30, 2013
Which team wins?
But Missouri also has a star in senior defensive end Michael Sam—owner of 10.5 sacks and the title of SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He ranks as the No. 6 overall linebacker at CBS Sports with a second-round grade.
So not only is this a high-profile matchup of a classic rivalry already flying under the radar, but it also has plenty of interest value for those fans looking to watch top NFL draft prospects who could end up on their favorite team next season.
The BCS gets most of the attention, but the Cotton Bowl has done well for itself this year with two powerhouses from top conferences. Oklahoma State and Missouri are set to put on a show worthy of the national spotlight—fans do not want to miss this one.