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Cotton Bowl Notebook: OSU vs. Missouri

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No. 13 Oklahoma State clashes with No. 8 Missouri in a highly-anticipated Cotton Bowl matchup at 7 p.m. on Friday in Dallas. Here are a handful of notes to keep in mind as these familiar foes collide:


Tough Task

Oklahoma State senior corner Justin Gilbert is one of the nation's best at his position and is projected widely as a first-round pick in April's NFL Draft.

Gilbert has had a dominating senior campaign with 40 tackles and ranks sixth in the country with five interceptions.

However, he might be facing his toughest test to date in his final collegiate outing against Missouri superstar sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham.

Beckham is physically imposing at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds and he knows how to use his frame, ranking 10th in the NCAA in touchdown receptions with 12. Gilbert is a rather large corner in his own right at 6-foot, 200-pounds but the Huntsville, Texas, native will have his work cut out for him in Dallas.


Off To A Good Start

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has been pleased with his team's first couple of practices at Euless Trinity High School outside of Dallas. He said his team has bounced back well and is looking forward to facing Missouri, saying that "spirits are great" in the locker room.

Gundy said he has been happy with his team's attitude and stated that the tempo has been good in all facets.


Lone Star Cowboys

Naturally the Fiesta Bowl would be the preferred bowl destination for the Cowboys but the Cotton Bowl isn't a bad consolation prize, especially given OSU's high number of native Texans.

OSU has 71 Texans on the roster – 28 more than any other non-Texas-based school in the nation – and 32 of them are from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Oklahoma State has also won 11 of its past 12 games in the Lone Star State.


Tall Cotton

Jan. 3 will mark the fourth time in school history Oklahoma State has appeared in the Cotton Bowl. Two of the trips have come fairly recently in 2004 and 2010, but the Cowboys haven't earned a victory in this classic bowl game since the Cowboys (or Aggies at the time) won 34-0 against TCU in 1945.

That victory also holds the distinction of being the Pokes first bowl appearance.

Mizzou might be a familiar foe as a former Big 8 and Big 12 member but now the Tigers are a nonconference opponent and Mike Gundy's squad has favored quite well in that area in the past few years. OSU is 15-1 in its past 16 nonconference games dating back to the start of the 2010 season.


SEC Not So Dominant

Many see this as an opportunity for the Cowboys to prove something against the mighty SEC. Well, as far as the numbers are concerned, OSU doesn't have anything to prove. Oklahoma State is 9-1 in its past 10 games against current SEC schools.

OSU has also won three straight against Missouri and four of the past five meeting, most recently with a 45-24 win in Columbia in 2011.


Gundy Mum On Texas

One underlying storyline this week from the Cotton Bowl has been the reported interest in Mike Gundy for the vacant head coaching job at Texas.

Gundy potentially put some nerves to rest on Monday when asked whether he has been contacted by Texas or any other school in the hunt for a new coach. Gundy replied with a simple, "No."

This is an unfortunate distraction and one that seems to crop up this time every year for Gundy despite him consistently passing up jobs to stay at his alma mater.


Battle Of Balance

Missouri has one of the country's most potent offenses, ranking 16th in the FBS in yards per game at 492.9. And the Tigers have achieved this through balance, ranking 17th in rushing, 40th in passing and 15th in scoring at 39 points per game.

The Cowboys will attempt to counter that attack with a fair amount of balance of its own. OSU's ranks 12th in scoring at 39.8 points per contest but doesn't put up quite the yardage that the Tigers do. The Cowboys rank 39th in total offense (440.5), 29th in passing and 64th in rushing. Those numbers can be a bit deceiving, however, as the Cowboys have improved drastically on the ground in the past several weeks.

Whichever team's outstanding defense alters the opposing offense's ability to stick with a balanced attack will have a major upper hand in this matchup.

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