Key play: Missouri senior cornerback E.J. Gaines picked off Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf at midfield. Chelf had scrambled from the pocket and appeared to have enough daylight to run for a first down, but instead threw the ball straight to Gaines. The turnover extended the Tigers’ streak of games with a turnover to a nation-leading 44 in a row.
Key stat: Missouri quarterback James Franklin completed only four of 16 passes for 33 yards with an interception in the first quarter. Of course, the interception came on a tipped ball by Dorial Green-Beckham, who also had a drop.
Key play: As he did in several other games this season, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk entered for a series and guided Missouri to a go-ahead touchdown. Mauk had back-to-back runs of 35 and 34 yards into Oklahoma State territory. He capped the drive with a gorgeous 24-yard touchdown lob to senior wide receiver Marcus Lucas.
Key stat: Missouri finished the first half with 193 yards on rushing in 27 carries, a 7.1-yard average, compared to Oklahoma State’s 56 yards rushing in 16 carries, an average of 3.5 yards.
Key play: Missouri had nothing going on offense, but neither did Oklahoma State until senior quarterback James Franklin’s fumble on a hesitant read-option give to running back Henry Josey late in the third quarter. The result was a fumble recovery for Cowboys defensive tackle James Castleman, which set up 21-yard touchdown from Clint Chelf to Jhajuan Seales three plays later.
Key stat: Missouri managed only 24 yards in the quarter, including minus-5 yards rushing. Franklin and Mauk combined to complete only three of 10 passes for 29 yards and the Tigers were one for five on third down.
Key play: Franklin was intercepted by Oklahoma State cornerback Tyler Patmon, who returned the pick 40 yards for an apparent go-ahead touchdown that was wiped out because Patmon was flagged for pass interference against intended receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. The drive later resulted in an Andrew Baggett field goal.
Key stat: Oklahoma State’s only fourth-quarter turnover proved costly. Missouri senior defensive end Michael Sam forced a sack, which Shane Ray recovered and returned 73 yards for a back-breaking touchdown.
Player of the game: Senior linebacker Andrew Wilson finished with 15 tackles for a defense that rebounded from getting gashed by Auburn in the SEC championship game. Wilson moved into 10th place all-time on the Tigers’ all-time tackles list, passing his father, Jay, along the way.
Reason to hope: Missouri proved that it belonged in the Southeastern Conference by winning the SEC East. The Cotton Bowl allowed the 2013 Tigers to match the program record for victories with 12 and put an exclamation point on a remarkable turnaround.
Reason to mope: Franklin turned in a mostly dismal performance, 15 of 40 passing for 174 yards and no touchdowns with an interception and two fumbles, in his final career game. He started the game one for 10 with an interception and little help from his wide receivers, who dropped several passes and provided little help early.
Looking ahead: Missouri rebounded from a 5-7 season and played its way back into national prominence. As a result, from a competitive and recruiting standpoint, the 2013 season probably will be remembered as a significant turning point.
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com
|C+||Offense||Missouri rushed for 256 yards led by junior Henry Josey, who racked up 92 yards and three touchdowns, but the passing game never got rolling. Quarterback James Franklin completed only 15 of 40 passes and never looked comfortable.|
|B||Defense||Until late in the second half when turnovers put the defense on its heels, Missouri played well on that side of the ball. Seniors Andrew Wilson (15 tackles), Randy Ponder (seven tackles, three breakups) and E.J. Gaines (seven tackles, interception) and junior Kony Ealy (two sacks) turned in terrific games.|
|A-||Special teams||Junior Marcus Murphy broke free for a 38-yard punt return and had some other good returns and sophomore Andrew Baggett connected on 35- and 46-yard field goals. Punter Christian Brinser averaged 41 yards on seven punts and, more importantly, Missouri didn’t get burned by Oklahoma State’s return game.|
|B||Coaching||Missouri handled the James Franklin/Maty Mauk situation well. Mauk ignited a spark in the first half and got a second chance in the third quarter when the offense continued to struggle. It didn’t work that time, so Gary Pinkel put the game back in his starter’s hands.|