Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Saturday, January 4, 2014
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Three thoughts

By Max Olson

Oklahoma State fought back but came up short against No. 8 Missouri in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, losing 41-31 at AT&T Stadium to finish the season 10-3. Three takeaways from what we learned about the Cowboys:

1. What a shootout: It's hard to believe a sluggish game through three quarters, with Missouri leading 17-14, ended like this. These two offenses combined for 41 points in the final quarter, and the Cowboys had a legitimate chance to win until Clint Chelf's last-minute fumble was scooped up by Shane Ray and returned 73 yards for a touchdown. The Chelf-led Pokes offense finally got rolling late in the third and took it to Missouri but couldn’t pull out the win.

2. No time for balance: Falling behind for nearly the entirety of the second and third quarters forced OSU to move away from a more balanced attack. Its run game didn’t make much of a dent, with 80 yards on the ground through three quarters, and that meant extra pressure on Chelf’s shoulders in the form of a career-high 57 passes attempts. While Chelf did rush for 60 yards in the fourth, he needed more help from his backs on Friday against a tough Missouri defense.

3. Reload or rebuild? Oklahoma State entered 2013 as the prohibitive favorite to win the Big 12, and with good reason. This was a senior-loaded team with a ton of experience coming back. Now those veterans are on the way out -- six senior starters on offense, seven on defense -- and you have to wonder what’s next for Mike Gundy’s program. The Cowboys have depth and recruit well, so maybe the drop-off won’t be as considerable as it looks on paper. Regardless, they’ll need plenty of guys to fill some big shoes this offseason.