Cotton Bowl Preview: Ohio State Ends Season with SEC Opponent Again

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads his team onto the field for the NCAA football game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads his team onto the field for the NCAA football game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Ohio Stadium. | Image Credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

Cotton Bowl Preview: Ohio State Battles Missouri in Top-10 Matchup in Texas.

The No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes take on the No. 9 Missouri Tigers in Arlington, Texas in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on December 29th at 8 pm. EST.

The programs are trending in slightly different directions, with the Buckeyes losing their last game against TTUN. The Tigers are coming off three-straight victories including a 34-point win at Arkansas in their regular season finale.

Nearing kickoff, many players have already opted to play for the Buckeyes, while a few are still undecided. The Missouri Tigers will be at full strength for the most part, and this game will not be easy.

Junior quarterback Kyle McCord finished the year with 3,170 passing yards with 24 passing touchdowns and six interceptions. The Buckeye quarterback announced recently that he has transferred to Syracuse, leaving the most important position up for grabs for the bowl game. Sophomore quarterback Devin Brown will take the reins and look to make a statement, and should have some help around him.

Brown threw just 22 passes this year for 197 yards with two passing touchdowns and one interception. Prior to an injury, he was used a good amount in the redzone and had 19 carries including one rushing touchdown. Junior running back TreVeyon Henderson will play in the bowl game, which is a huge boost for the offense. The talented back had 854 rushing yards and averaged 6.2 yards per carry, with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Junior wide receiver and Heisman invitee Marvin Harrison Jr. won the Biletnikoff award, earning 1,211 yards on 67 receptions with 14 touchdowns. He has likely played his last game as a Buckeye. Junior wideout Emeka Egbuka will suit up, and has 452 yards and four touchdowns in limited games this year. Senior tight end Cade Stover has been another threat, with 41 catches, 576 yards, and five touchdowns.

Missouri has been led by junior quarterback Brady Cook, who has aired it out for 3,189 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has 253 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Senior running back Cody Schrader has powered the ground attack with 1,489 yards with a 6.0 average yards per carry, and 13 touchdowns.

Their favorite weapon is Sophomore wide receiver Luther Burden III, who has 83 receptions, 1,197 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns this season for the black and yellow. Senior wide receiver Theo Wease Jr. has added 45 catches, 639 receiving yards and six touchdowns as well.

The Tigers’ have put up similar numbers to the Buckeyes on offense and averaged 34.1 points per game. They suffered just two losses this year, a 49-39 shootout to then No.23 LSU, and a 30-21 defeat to the then No.2 Georgia Bulldogs. They have wins over No. 15 Kansas State and No. 13 Tennessee, and are a very well-rounded team. 

Ohio State has wins over No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 7 Penn State. But a loss to No. 3 Michigan left the Buckeyes out of the playoff picture after being in it last year. With a flurry of NFL prospects returning for the bowl game, this will be a nice test in a cool atmosphere for players to make plays.

It will help the Buckeyes going to the next level show off their skillset, and some returning guys to end the season on a high note. If Brown can make some plays with his arm, and the defense can force the Tigers into a one-dimensional offense and keep everything short, I see the Buckeyes rising to the occasion.

Preditcion: Ohio State 27, Missouri 20