Missouri Wins 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic
It took a little while, but Missouri showed why it was the SEC East champion and a national title contender.
Missouri struggled offensively in the first three quarters and were plagued by three turnovers. But the Tigers exploded for an AT&T Stadium record 24 fourth quarter points, and Shane Ray returned a fumble 73 yards for a touchdown with 2:13 remaining as Missouri topped Oklahoma State 41-31 in the 78th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl.
“All the drama you don’t want in the fourth quarter we had,” said Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said. “We had a lot of adversity I thought our team handled the adversity very well. Fortunately we made the plays we needed to make to win it at the end.”
With the win, Missouri finished the season 12-2 and tied the school record for most victories in a season. Pinkel also become Missouri’s all-time winningest coach, surpassing Don Faurot who won 101 games.
The former Big 12 and Big 8 conference foes set a Cotton Bowl record for most points scored in the fourth quarter and exchanged scores on six consecutive possessions. The streak was broken when Michael Sam sacked Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf and forced the fumble that Ray scooped up for the game-winning score.
Missouri made the move from the Big 12 to the SEC two years ago and gave the conference its 10th win in the last 11 Cotton Bowls-- all coming against the Big 12.
“That’s something really big, I mean, representing the SEC. The SEC is such a powerful conference,” said Missouri running back Henry Josey. “That’s the conference everybody looks to. That’s where all the attention is.”
Trailing 31-27 with 3:08 left, Josey broke loose for his third touchdown of the game, a 16-yard scamper into the end zone that gave the Tigers the lead back for good.
Josey finished the game with 92 yards rushing and three touchdowns and was named the game’s Offensive MVP. His 25-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter helped spark a Missouri offense that was limited to just 17 points in the fourth quarter.
The score came after Missouri had fumbled twice in three positions and let Oklahoma rally to tie the game in the final quarter.
“(Josey) is a remarkable kid. He’s special,” Pinkel said. “That’s what you see on the field. But the reason he’s special, he’s got great athleticism, he’s tough, he’s strong, all those other things.”
Both offenses came into the game averaging close to 40 points per contest but were limited by a multitude of penalties and turnovers before finally catching fire late.
James Franklin set up Josey’s go-ahead touchdown on a key 27-yard strike to Dorial Green-Beckham. But the senior out of Lake Dallas had a rough night, going 15-of-40 for 174 yards and one interception.
Clint Chelf threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for Oklahoma State. He also rushed for 52 yards and another touchdown.
The situation looked bleak for the Cowboys late in the third quarter. Trailing 17-7, Chelf was intercepted by Braylon Webb. But on the very next play, Missouri had trouble with the snap and Oklahoma State recovered the fumble at the Tigers 33-yard line. Less than a minute later, Chelf responded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jhajuan Seals.
With the momentum starting to shift, Missouri opened the fourth quarter with another fumble, this time inside its own 20-yard line. Oklahoma State again took advantage as Ben Grogan converted on a 25-yard field goal.
“We made some adjustments at halftime. That helped us as the game went on,” said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy. “Missouri had been good up front and defended the running game until we made those adjustments.”
With the game tied 24-24, Franklin appeared to throw his second interception, which was returned for a touchdown. But the play was negated because of a pass interference call. Missouri continued its drive and settled for a 46-yard Andrew Baggett field goal.
But Chelf once again had an answer. The senior signal-caller found Tracy Moore for a 41-yard completion. Chelf then gained 16 yards on the ground and set up a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Desmond Roland that gave the Cowboys their only lead of the game.
“It’s a tough way to lose the last two games,” said Oklahoma head coach Mike Gundy. “It’s really hard on our team. I was proud of our effort. We had our chances.”
The Cowboys were trying to win 11 games for the third time in 10 seasons. Before Mike Gundy took over the program in 2005, the Cowboys had never won 11 games.
Missouri won the Cotton Bowl for the second time in the last six years after defeating Arkansas in 2008.