Posted: Jan 2, 2014 2:41 PM by Mark Kim, KOMU 8 Sports Columnist
Updated: Jan 2, 2014 3:41 PM
(COLUMBIA) - Despite a disappointing loss to Auburn in the SEC Championship, the Missouri Tigers finished 11-2 on the year and will culminate in an appearance in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. The Tigers will play the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.
The biggest matchup to watch in this game will pit Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham against Oklahoma St. cornerback Justin Gilbert. Both players are top prospects for the NFL Draft (Gilbert this year, DGB in 2015). The tale of the tape shows Green-Beckham is six inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Gilbert. Despite all the physical advantages Green-Beckham has over Gilbert, the senior cornerback's speed should help him keep up with DGB throughout the day. While this is the most intriguing matchup to watch due to the high talent levels of both players, this matchup will be one-sided. Green-Beckham will physically dominate Gilbert all day. Gilbert has been burned in two of his last three games by the likes of Texas wide receiver Mike Davis and Baylor wide receiver Mike Goodley. It's going to be hard to see Gilbert completely locking up Green-Beckham if he couldn't do it to those two.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin still has other solid options to pass to. Those players include L'Damian Washington, Marcus Lucas, Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt. Oklahoma St., like other teams that have played Missouri, will have a very hard time covering these big receivers. Look for Franklin to pick apart this Cowboys pass defense.
A big reason why Franklin will have to air the ball out is because of the Cowboy's run defense. Oklahoma St. has not allowed a single player to rush for 100 yards all season. That being said, Missouri will probably have multiple backs on the field to try to confuse the defense. While Henry Josey has been the primary back for Missouri, look for a lot more Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy than usual in the game. Moderate success in the run game should be expected from the Missouri Tigers.
The Cowboy's running game has boom-bust potential depending on the week. It looks like their run game will bust against the Tigers. The Missouri Tigers have rode their run defense to the SEC Championship and they'll be hungrier than ever after getting embarrassed by Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason. Plus with this being the last game for defensive lineman Michael Sam and possibly Kony Ealy, these guys will look to raise their draft stock.
The Tigers have been burned in pass coverage and it looks like it won't get any easier for them in this game. Oklahoma St. quarterback Clint Chelf is on a roll right now as he has over 750 passing yards, six passing touchdowns and two interceptions in his last three games. Those numbers all top Franklin's numbers since his return to the field. It will be hard for the Tigers to force turnovers against Chelf as he has four receivers with over 400 receiving yards on the year. Translation: The Tigers need to lock up each and every receiver Oklahoma St. head coach Mike Gundy puts on the field.
The grand finale is set in Jerry's world for the Tigers storybook season. And it looks like there will be a happy ending in the story of the 2013 Missouri Tigers. The Missouri Tigers will come out the winners of the Cotton Bowl this year given their superior physicality on both sides of the ball. Look for the team to ride the efforts of their two senior stars, James Franklin and Michael Sam, on their way to hoisting the coveted Cotton Bowl trophy.