Big 12: Shane Ray

AT&T Cotton Bowl: Three thoughts

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
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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.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Missouri players sat and watched the Allstate Sugar Bowl with the bewildered feeling the rest of the nation was experiencing. Oklahoma was imposing its will on SEC power Alabama in the heart of SEC country, going from underdog to the talk of the nation on Thursday night.

“It was crazy, it came down to what team wanted it most,” Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham said of the Sooners' 45-31 win. “You looked at Oklahoma and they wanted to win the game, they wanted to be Sugar Bowl champs, they went out and took what was theirs.”

Thus, Missouri players woke up on Friday morning with the knowledge that the weight of an entire conference was on their shoulders. Missouri needed to grab immediate revenge with a victory over Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl if it wanted to defend its conference’s reputation.

The SEC took a punch from the Big 12 in the Sugar Bowl, but the Tigers punched back Friday night with a 41-31 win over Big 12 foe Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium.

[+] EnlargeHenry Josey, Blake Webb
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMissouri might be new to the SEC, but the Tigers understood the importance of beating Oklahoma State and keeping the conference's rep.
“I did feel a tad bit of pressure, because I know we represent the SEC,” senior receiver L'Damian Washington said. “I think [OSU cornerback] Justin Gilbert made a statement earlier this week that the Big 12 was better than the SEC and I think we had to go out and prove the SEC is a force to be reckoned with.”

The Tigers used a combination of a relentless pass-rushing defensive line, strong running game and timely plays to earn their school record-tying 12th victory of the season, equaling the win total of the 2007 team.

Led by Cotton Bowl offensive MVP Henry Josey, Missouri rushed for 256 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry against a Cowboys’ defense that allowed 132.9 rushing yards and 3.46 per carry during the regular season. OSU quarterback Clint Chelf will have nightmares featuring Tigers pass-rushing duo Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. Missouri got to Chelf for three sacks, but the Cowboys quarterback was constantly flushed out of the pocket and forced to make plays on the move thanks to the Tigers defensive line, which cemented the win when Sam forced a Chelf fumble that was returned 73 yards for a touchdown by Shane Ray to halt OSU’s hopes of a game-winning touchdown in the final minutes.

“First-team All-American makes an All-American play,” Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said.

SEC teams rejoiced as the conference escaped back-to-back losses to Big 12 opponents.

“We believe we’re the best conference,” said Andrew Wilson, who finished with a game-high 15 tackles. “And if you want to be the best conference you have to prove it, that’s why everyone is rooting for each other in these bowl games for everyone to go out and do what they can do.”

Make no mistake, the Tigers wanted the win for themselves, but they also wanted it for their conference.

“That’s something real big, representing the SEC,” Josey said. “The SEC is such a powerful conference, that’s the conference everybody looks to, that’s where the attention is. Coming into this game, that was in the back of our mind, that is always in the back of our mind that we had to hold up the rep for the SEC.”

Now, with its job done, Missouri passes the mantle to Auburn, which has the opportunity to win the eighth consecutive BCS title for the SEC when it takes on Florida State in the BCS National Championship on Monday night.

“Right now it’s up to Auburn to bring it home,” Ealy said. “We want to keep it in the SEC, that’s the most important thing as far as this conference goes.”

Missouri recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
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MISSOURI TIGERS

The class

Signees: 17 (three enrolled early)

Top prospects: Junior college transfer Sheldon Richardson is a defensive tackle and former Missouri signee out of high school who ranks as the nation's No. 3 juco prospect. Shane Ray (No. 35 DE) and Gerrand Johnson (No. 58 DT) also give the Tigers some strength on the defensive line at the top of its recruiting class. Quarterback Corbin Berkstresser (No. 43 nationally) could also have a future at the helm of the Tigers' offense. Michael Boddie and Taylor Chappell give the Tigers a pair of tackles to develop for the future.

Needs met: Missouri got some help at receiver with Wesley Leftwich and Brandon Hannah, but the deep threat its offense needs might already be on campus. Three starting defensive backs graduated, but the Tigers signed four DBs in their 2011 class. The problem is only Cortland Browning (No. 82 CB) is ranked by ESPNU. Fellow corner David Johnson, and safeties Earnest Payton and Ian Simon are also coming to Missouri, but the Tigers will have to hope there are hidden gems among the unheralded group.

Analysis: You'll hear the standard recruiting cliches from Missouri about this class, but the truth is it's pretty underwhelming considering the success the Tigers have had in recent years on the field. Also true? You can't fully judge a class until it takes the field for a couple years. That said, Missouri didn't sign a single four-star high-school prospect in the class. Even if Richardson blossoms into a star, he sounds like a player intent on playing major college football for just one season before a jump to the NFL. The Tigers have proven they're one of the best programs in the Big 12 at developing talent once it arrives in Columbia, so maybe this class could surprise in a few years, but the expectations from this group will be low next season. ESPN ranks the Tigers' class as ninth in the Big 12, ahead of only Iowa State, and that's not very good for a program that's been on the rise the past six years or so under Gary Pinkel.

ESPN recruiting grade: C

Big 12 top commits who have signed

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
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Letters of intent will be coming in all day, but a few of the top commits across the Big 12 have gotten an early start. Here are a few of the top commits in the league who have officially gotten their John Hancocks on to kick off National Signing Day.

Missouri
Nebraska
Oklahoma
Texas
Texas A&M
Texas Tech

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