College Sports

Cotton pickin’ again sows rivalry renewal

This year’s Cotton Bowl has a similar feel to last year’s, with a matchup featuring two former conference foes.

Missouri and Oklahoma State, longtime Big Eight and Big 12 members, on Sunday were announced as the participants in the 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic a year after Texas A&M ran past Oklahoma.

A&M, of course, took great pleasure in capping its inaugural SEC season with a blowout victory over a former Big 12 opponent. Missouri hopes to finish its second SEC season in similar fashion.

Mizzou and Oklahoma State, though, had higher hopes last week with a BCS bowl berth within their grasps. Each lost on Saturday, however, which left them on the outside looking in.

But nobody is complaining about landing in the history-rich Cotton Bowl on Jan. 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

“This is an opportunity to finish up a special season in front of a great Mizzou crowd,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said in a statement.

Said OSU coach Mike Gundy: “Playing in the Cotton Bowl is a great reward for our team. We get to enjoy being around each other for a few more weeks and we get to face a quality opponent in Missouri, who we have a long history with.”

Missouri and Oklahoma State met yearly from 1960-97 as Big Eight members. Once the Big 12 was formed, the rivalry didn’t continue annually, but they met seven times from 1998-2011. They stopped facing each other once the Tigers bolted for the SEC two years ago.

In all, the two schools have met 52 times, and Missouri leads the all-time series 29-23. But the Cowboys have won the last three meetings and four of the last five.

For Missouri, it’s the school’s third trip to the Cotton Bowl and first since January 2008, when it routed Arkansas 38-7.

The Tigers made quite a turnaround this season after finishing with a losing record in 2012. They won their first seven games, won three of four games behind backup quarterback Maty Mauk when starter James Franklin went down with an injury and were the top team in the SEC East.

Missouri had an outside shot at a national championship bid, too, going into the SEC title game Saturday. But that fizzled as Auburn pulled away late for a 59-42 victory and left Missouri searching for its first BCS bowl berth.

Oklahoma State, meanwhile, saw its dreams of a Big 12 title and second Fiesta Bowl bid in three years fade away against in-state rival Oklahoma on Saturday.

But it’s left with an intriguing matchup in Arlington. Can you say shootout?

The Tigers and Cowboys average more than 39 points a game and more than 440 yards of total offense per game.

“This is our final Classic with our formal matchup between the Big 12 and SEC before joining the College Football Playoff next year,” team selection chairman Fin Ewing said in a statement. “We’ve had some incredible matchups over the years with these two conferences, and I expect Oklahoma State and Missouri will be another great Classic with plenty of fireworks.”

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