By Jason Elmquist
ARLINGTON, Texas — Touted as the best matchup outside of the BCS bowls, Oklahoma State and Missouri failed to receive the memo for Friday’s Cotton Bowl Classic until the fourth quarter.
Both teams sputtered out of the gate — behind inaccurate quarterbacks, questionable coaching and sloppy officiating — and the 72,690 fans in attendance finally got its money’s worth in a wild fourth quarter that finished in a 41-31 victory for Missouri at AT&T Stadium.
The two starting quarterbacks combined to go 48 of 97 (49 completion percentage) for 555 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions — with Enid native Clint Chelf completing 33 of 57 for 381 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. It was not until late that Chelf finally got things clicking as he had completed just 13 of 20 passes for 136 yards with one touchdown and an interception in the first half. He also had 10 carries for 48 yards with a rushing touchdown.
Given a formula to beat the Missouri defense when Auburn utilized the read-zone option for over 500 yards in the SEC championship, the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich elected to limit his use of his running backs in the first half.
Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith ran the ball a combined 11 times for 59 yards — an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
With both offenses flailing, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel inserted backup quarterback Maty Mauk who showed the only bit of offense the entire night.
Mauk orchestrated an 80-yard scoring drive in which he ran for 73 yards — including two runs over 30 yards — and went 2 for 2 through the air with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lucas after a pair of penalties turned a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line back to the 24.
Inexplicably, Pinkel elected to go back to Franklin on the ensuing drive. The result was a three-and-out — thanks to a 9-yard sack of Franklin by defensive end Jimmy Bean, who led the Cowboy defense with seven tackles, including three for a loss.
It took the Cowboy defense setting up the offense for OSU to finally get back in the end zone.
Defensive tackle James Castleman recovered a fumbled handoff by Franklin and put the Pokes at the Missouri 33-yard line. Three plays later Chelf found Jhajuan Seales for a 21-yard touchdown pass just before the fourth quarter.
The OSU defense gave the offense another short field when Shaun Lewis broke up a pitch attempt by Franklin and Ryan Simmons recovered the ball at the 11-yard line. The Cowboys couldn’t pick up any yardage and freshman Ben Grogan, who hit a 34-yard field off the upright earlier in the game, tied the contest at 17 with a 25-yard field goal.
The lead went back to Missouri two minutes later when Henry Josey broke open a 25-yard touchdown run to cap a six-play, 60-yard drive — with the short field being set up by a personal foul on Joe Mitchell on the ensuing kickoff.
The Oklahoma State offense finally found a rhythm on its ensuing drive with Chelf matching Josey with a 23-yard quarterback draw to cap a 75-yard drive in which the OSU quarterback completed 3 of 5 passes for 39 yards.
Tyler Patmon nearly gave the momentum completely to the Cowboys, but the former University of Kansas cornerback had a pick six called back on a controversial pass interference penalty on the first-year Cowboy playing in his first bowl game. Missouri took advantage of the second chance and moved down the field to get a go-ahead 46-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett.
The Cowboys responded quickly by grabbing their first lead of the game with a 75-yard drive capped by a 2-yard run up the gut by Roland to give OSU the 31-27 advantage with 5:04 left in regulation.
Josey got his third rushing touchdown of the game for Missouri on its ensuing drive with a 16-yard scamper to finish with 92 yards on 12 carries and edge the Tigers back up with a 34-31 lead with 3:08 left in regulation.
Oklahoma State tried to charge back, but after yet another blown call by the Big 10 Conference crew — a Missouri defender prevented Charlie Moore from trying to make a play in the end zone — the Tigers sacked Chelf on the next play, forcing a fumble which was picked up and returned for a touchdown to seal the deal.