By Ryan Horton
Eerily reminiscent of Bedlam, Missouri got the big plays it needed at the end of the Cotton Bowl to beat an old rival, but for the No. 9 Tigers, the game was more than just a meeting of old rivals.
For Missouri this game was about maintaining the SEC’s decade-long Cotton Bowl dominance in which the Tigers were responsible for the league’s only blemish.
SEC East champion Missouri (12-2) matched its school record for victories and gave the SEC its 10th win in the last 11 Cotton Bowls, all against the Big 12. The Tigers were the only Big 12 team in that span to win, six years ago in their other 12-win season.
``That was always in the back our mind,’’ said running back Henry Josey.
Josey ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns, the last a 16-yarder with 3:08 left, and Shane Ray returned a fumbled 73 yards for a touchdown after that, and the No. 9 Tigers beat No. 13 Oklahoma State 41-31 late Friday night.
The former Big 12 and Big Eight rivals traded scores on six consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, until Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf was sacked by Michael Sam and fumbled with a minute left. Ray scooped up the ball and fired down the sideline in front of the stunned Cowboys bench to score.
Chelf threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, completing 33 of 57 passes. He also ran 10 times for 48 yards, including a 23-yard run to convert third-and-10 only a few plays before he was sacked by All-SEC defensive end Michael Sam sacked Chelf and knocked the ball loose.
That gave Sam 11 1/2 sacks, the most in the SEC and matching a school record.
The Cotton Bowl was the second consecutive game that what could have been a game-winning play for the Cowboys went terribly wrong in the final seconds.
The end of the Cotton Bowl was similar to the Cowboys’ regular-season finale a month ago in Bedlam. A 33-24 home loss to Oklahoma cost them the Big 12 title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.
Desmond Roland had a go-ahead 1-yard run with 1:46 left that day, but the Sooners drove to score with 19 seconds left and added a 3-yard fumble recovery for a score on the final play of that game.
``It’s tough. We had two opportunities to do that, and came up short both times,’’ Chelf said. ``It’s disappointing.’’
Roland bulled through the line with 5 minutes left in the Cotton Bowl for a 2-yard TD, dragging Ray with him into the end zone. Ray hit him at the line but couldn’t keep the running back from scoring the TD that gave the Cowboys their only lead, 31-27, only a few minutes after they thought they had a game-turning play.
Oklahoma State cornerback Tyler Patmon was in the end zone with his jubilant teammates after returning an interception for an apparent go-ahead touchdown with about 9 minutes left. However, a late penalty flag quickly killed the celebration and Mizzou turned the break into a tiebreaking field goal.
``I didn’t see it. I just saw two guys competing for the ball,’’ Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “I was only told by the referees that Patmon interfered without getting a real explanation.”
The Cowboys had won the last three games in the series, including 45-24 at Columbia during the 2011 season when they last met as Big 12 foes. Mizzou now leads the overall series 29-23 after meeting in a bowl game for the first time, and in the Tigers’ first game against a Big 12 team since leaving that league.
Franklin was only 15-of-40 passing for 174 yards with an interception, and the near pick-six nullified by a penalty.
Missouri backup quarterback Maty Mauk, who filled in for Franklin when he was hurt, trotted on the field with the Tigers offense for the first time. The freshman accounted for 105 yards on the drive, including runs of 35 and 34 yards before a 24-yard TD pass to Marcus Lucas.
Chelf was 33-of-57 for 381 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran 10 times for 48 yards, including a 23-yard run to convert a third-and-10 only a few plays before Sam got to him for an SEC-high 111/2 sacks.
Following Florida State beating Auburn in the BCS National Championship, OSU will now return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington to open the 2014 season Aug. 30, looking to dethrone the current champions.