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The Historic Cotton Bowl Features an Intriguing Ohio State vs. Missouri Matchup

HomeSports NewsThe Historic Cotton Bowl Features an Intriguing Ohio State vs. Missouri Matchup

Two storied college football programs will clash on the national stage when the Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Missouri Tigers in the 87th Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on Friday night.

This marks the first time these two teams have met in 25 years, since Missouri prevailed 24-14 in Columbia in 1998. While Ohio State leads the all-time series 10-1-1, this Missouri squad enters with plenty of confidence after putting together its best campaign since 2014. The Tigers are making their first-ever New Year’s Six bowl appearance, while the Buckeyes are the only program to qualify for a NY6 game in all 10 years of the College Football Playoff era.

The game is not without some added intrigue, as Ohio State deals with significant changes on offense. Starting quarterback Kyle McCord recently transferred to Syracuse, while Heisman Trophy finalist receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is sitting out to prepare for the NFL Draft. Top reserve running back Chip Trayanum also departed via the transfer portal.

Despite the attrition, Ohio State fields no shortage of talent, including highly-touted recruits waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Meanwhile, Missouri boasts a formidable offensive attack led by quarterback Brady Cook and features the nation’s third-best rushing offense.

This sets up an exciting showdown between programs rich in tradition who both still have plenty to prove. While Ohio State aims to close a 13-1 campaign on a high note, Missouri can make a resounding statement for the future by taking down a brand-name heavyweight.

Buckeyes Turn to Devin Brown at Quarterback After Transfers

With former starter Kyle McCord off to Syracuse, the Buckeyes will turn to former blue-chip recruit Devin Brown to lead the offense against Missouri. The sophomore will become the first Ohio State quarterback to make his starting debut in a bowl game.

Ranked as a four-star prospect and the nation’s fifth-best quarterback in the 2022 class per 247Sports, Brown brings ample long-term promise. However, to date he has seen minimal game action behind McCord, attempting just 13 career passes. Brown provided a glimpse of his dual-threat potential by running for 47 yards in spot duty this season. But stepping in against an SEC foe on a massive stage certainly represents a tall task.

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Offensive coordinator Brian Hartline will surely craft a game plan tailored to ease Brown’s transition while playing to his strengths as a runner. Having dynamic freshmen running backs Dallan Hayden and T.C. Caffey to lean on in the ground game should aid Brown as he settles into the starting role. Hartline can also get creative utilizing Brown’s athleticism via designed quarterback runs and rollouts to buy time in the passing game.

If Brown struggles early, coach Ryan Day could turn to senior Devin Rogers, who has thrown just two career passes but provides an experienced option. But the Cotton Bowl seems likely to serve as the first chapter in the Devin Brown era, a preview of what’s to come for the Ohio State offense in 2023 and beyond.

Missouri’s Elite Offensive Trio Primed for Spotlight

While intrigue swirls around Ohio State’s quarterback situation, Missouri enters the Cotton Bowl with an offensive triplet ready to seize the primetime spotlight.

Quarterback Brady Cook will look to cap a banner junior season that saw him evolve into one of the SEC’s most efficient and effective signal-callers. Utilizing pinpoint accuracy and distribution, Cook passed for 2,743 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 68.2% of his attempts, good for the program’s third-best single-season mark. He added 461 rushing yards and six more scores on the ground.

Spearheading a dominant ground game is running back Cody Schrader, who etched his name alongside program greats by rushing for over 1,400 yards. The first-team All-American ended the regular season fifth nationally with 13 rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

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Top wideout Luther Burden blossomed into a dynamic playmaker in his sophomore campaign after arriving as a five-star prospect in 2022. Burden leads the Tigers with 1,197 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, earning second-team All-American recognition.

With all three excelling and grounds to spare playing behind an elite offensive line, Missouri boasted the nation’s third-ranked rushing offense at 244.1 yards per game. Yet the unit has proven it can move the ball effectively through the air when needed as well.

The multifaceted attack guided by Cook presents a stiff test for an Ohio State defense that has shown occasional vulnerability against the run this season. If Schrader and the ground game exert their will, it could make for a long night for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State Seeks Solutions at Receiver Without Harrison Jr.

While Missouri’s offensive weapons take center stage, the Cotton Bowl doubles as an audition of sorts for Ohio State’s next crop of star receivers.

Top wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. accumulated 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns this season before opting out of the bowl matchup to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. His absence leaves opportunity for younger Buckeyes receivers, namely former blue-chipper Julian Fleming.

The junior finally enjoyed a healthy season and leads Ohio State with 547 yards and six touchdowns entering the bowl game. He and classmate Emeka Egbuka (844 yards, eight touchdowns) will shoulder the largest share of targets. But all eyes are on a trio of talented young wideouts eager to introduce themselves on the big stage.

Former No. 1 overall recruit Carnell Tate flashed tantalizing potential when given chances as a freshman, using his impressive size and catch radius to tally 17 receptions and one score. Emerging sophomore Kyion Grayes amassed 364 yards over the latter half of the season. Redshirt freshman Kojo Antwi also garnered attention in practice and could see his most significant action yet.

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The Cotton Bowl marks the first chance for Tate, Grayes and others to demonstrate they are ready to fill the void left by departed stars like Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If Devin Brown sees extensive playing time at quarterback, he would surely welcome a young playmaker stepping up early to earn his trust.

Coach Ryan Day recently stated his desire to get freshmen more involved, so the spotlight will shine brightly on high-upside talents like Tate. An impactful showing by any of Ohio State’s young wideouts would mark an encouraging development for 2023.

The Outlook Favors Confident Missouri Squad Eyeing Program-Defining Win

Despite its storied history, Ohio State enters as a rare underdog against Missouri as a one-point Cotton Bowl underdog. The Tigers appear well-positioned to author the next triumphant chapter in a storybook 2022 season.

Fourth-year coach Eli Drinkwitz has Missouri rolling after only its second 10-win regular season since 2014, fueled by an elite offense now receiving its deserved accolades. While the Buckeyes bid farewell to their starting quarterback and top receiver, the Tigers take the field at full strength, motivated to deliver the program’s first NY6 victory.

Conversely, Ohio State contends with inevitable disappointment after just missing the College Football Playoff, having now failed to reach the national title game in five consecutive playoff eras.

Establishing offensive continuity and rhythm with Devin Brown at the helm early on represents a major key if the Buckeyes hope to spring the upset. The defense must also contain the three-headed Missouri monster at all costs and force Cook into uncharacteristic mistakes.

Still, with emerging offensive cornerstones against a daunting SEC contender, the odds seem squarely in Missouri’s favor. The Tigers have both the talent and intangibles to leave AT&T Stadium celebrating the defining achievement of Drinkwitz’s tenure.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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