Cotton Bowl: Missouri Tigers Roll to Victory over Arkansas Razorbacks

Tim PollockSenior Writer IJanuary 1, 2008

Appropriately clad in all red, the Arkansas Razorbacks smelled blood Tuesday morning. 

Unfortunately, it was their own.   

The Razorbacks had the ball first, but not for long.

McFadden, Jones, and the rest of the Hogs were clearly fired up to play, bringing big hits, demonstrative head nods, and plenty of trash talk on the opening drive. 

Missouri defenders tried to match their opponents' intensity, but they simply looked overpowered—even when they made stops.  But after the Hogs quickly took the ball down to the 15, normally reliable place-kicker Alex Tejada missed a chip shot, and the Razorbacks came away scoreless.  

The Hogs’ defense was just as ready to play, forcing the Tigers into a third-and-14 and making them waste an early timeout.  But the Tiger offense recovered, putting together a nice drive on their next possession, running a balanced attack to a 7-0 lead. 

Felix Jones responded with a big kick return, taking it to the Tigers’ 41-yard line.  On fourth down, however, the Arkansas coaches made a game-changing blunder.  After calling a timeout during a successful fake punt, the Hogs coaches then amazingly called for another fake punt—and the Tigers snuffed it out.  From there, the Hogs never looked the same.   

Deciding to rush only three, it was clear that Arkansas was going to make Missouri beat them on the ground—and that’s exactly what Tony Temple did, rolling his way to well over 100 yards in the first half alone, and a Cotton Bowl-record 281 yards on the day.  After struggling through much of the first half, the Missouri offense finally got into gear late in the second quarter, and took a 14-0 lead on a Temple score. 

After another solid drive by Arkansas, Tejada missed another chip shot, leaving the Hogs trailing 14-0 at the half—and with no momentum whatsoever. 

It would get uglier.

Mizzou quickly scored again to start the second half, bring the score to 21-0.  Meanwhile, nothing went right for Arkansas.  After a huge catch and run by Felix Jones seemed to give a glimmer of hope for Razorback fans, he coughed up the ball, giving it right back to the Tigers. 

The misery continued for Arkansas. 

Even after a third quarter interception, the Hogs fumbled the ball while returning the pick, and the Tigers retained possession.

While Arkansas’s five turnovers didn’t help their cause, Missouri was clearly the better team.  Even with a mediocre performance from Chase Daniel, the Tigers simply overwhelmed the Hogs and steamrolled to a final score of 38-7.

It’s a shame Missouri didn’t get a shot at a BCS bowl.