Cotton Bowl Pick & Predictions
What kind of world are we living in when the Cotton Bowl isn't played on New Year's Day? Well, that's where we're at as we try to handicap the 88th edition of this college football classic, which matches Ohio State and Missouri Friday night at JerryWorld.
The Buckeyes came up one game short of their ultimate goal this season and will now play this bowl game without their starting quarterback.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are coming off their best regular season in almost a decade and might be the more motivated team in this match-up.
Bowl Betting Market
The CFB bowl season betting market opened Ohio State at -2.5 for this Cotton Bowl, with an over/under of right around 48. Early betting action shaved that line to 1.5.
According to Sagarin's ratings, the Buckeyes should be favored by almost two touchdowns for this game. But that's not taking into account the Ohio State QB situation.
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Cotton Bowl Betting Preview
Missouri played 10-2 this season, 6-2 in SEC action, its best performance in four campaigns under Coach Drinkwitz. The Tigers started 5-0, with wins over two pretty good teams in Kansas State and Memphis, before losing a wild game to LSU. Mizzou later reached 7-1, but a tough loss to Georgia knocked them from contention in the SEC East. The Tigers sucked it up, though, and won their last three games, finishing with a 48-14 win at Arkansas back on Nov. 24.
Missouri returned 15 starters this season, so improvement was expected, following four straight .500 seasons. Still, the Tigers only figured to finish somewhere in the middle in the SEC East. We could say Mizzou is a pleasant surprise, but then again, maybe we shouldn't be surprised.
We underestimated Missouri a couple of times this season, losing when we backed Kansas State back in September and Kentucky in October. But we got some of our money back when we took the Tigers in the season finale against the Razorbacks.
Meanwhile, Ohio State played 11-1 this season, 8-1 in the Big 10, but for the second straight year, lost the Big Game to Michigan. Last year, the Buckeyes still managed to receive an invite to the College Football Playoff; this year, they did not.
Ohio State started 11-0, although it wasn't exactly playing a Murderers Row of a schedule. The Buckeyes won at Notre Dame on a touchdown on the last play of the game and later beat Penn State while beating up on a bunch of the usual suspects in the Big 10. Ohio State then gave the Wolverines a tougher game than we expected up at the Big House but lost 30-24.
The Buckeyes returned 14 starters this season and were picked to finish just behind Michigan in the Big 10 East. And that's precisely what happened.
We bet a bunch of Ohio State games this season, with mixed results. We bet against the Buckeyes at South Bend and ended up with a push. Then we won with Ohio State at Purdue at -17 but lost when we faded the Buckeyes at -4 against the Nittany Lions. Then we took a tough loss - by half a point - when we backed OSU at Wisconsin but hit when we faded the Buckeyes at +3 against Michigan.
The big news for Ohio State heading into this Cotton Bowl is the absence of QB Kyle McCord, who hit the portal shortly after the loss to Michigan. So it appears the Buckeyes will give Devin Brown, who comes highly regarded, of course, his first start in this Cotton Bowl.
The best team Missouri played this year was Georgia. The Tigers only trailed the Bulldogs in Athens 24-21 well into the fourth quarter, lost 30-21 but covered at +14.
The best team Ohio State played this season was Michigan. The Buckeyes, as mentioned above, also gave a great effort against a great opponent in a tough place to play.
These teams last met back in 1998, a 35-14 Ohio State victory.
By the Numbers
Missouri averaged 441 yards per game on offense this season, including 169 rushing. Defensively, the Tigers held opponents to 347 YPG, 124 rushing. This while playing what Sagarin ranks as the 27th-toughest schedule in CFB.
Ohio State averaged 425 YPG on offense, 142 on the ground, and that's with its starting QB. The Buckeyes also limited opponents to just 260 YPG, 113 on the ground, while playing Sagarin's No. 31 schedule.
Bowl Betting Trends
Over the last two bowl seasons the SEC is 6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS against the Big 10.
The Overs are 8-4 in Tigers games this season, which are averaging 56 total points.
The Unders are 9-3 in Buckeyes games, which are averaging 44 points.
Free Cotton Bowl Betting Pick
Bowl games are often about motivation. Who's happy to be here? And who probably wishes they were somewhere else? Missouri would love to finish a fine season with a bowl win over a program like Ohio State. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes probably wish they were playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. The Tigers can run the ball, they play defense, and we liked their performance against Georgia back in November. Also, the SEC's been good against the Big 10 over recent bowls. We like Mizzou to take this Cotton Bowl.