The Missouri Tigers finished the 2018 regular season 8-4 and riding a four-game winning streak, but the SEC didn’t do them any favors, placing them in the Liberty Bowl against Oklahoma State.
For fans who were hoping for a more prestigious assignment, this is a bit disappointing, but at least Memphis is a very drivable distance for most of the Missouri fan base. But, at the end of the day, the Tigers have a chance to get to nine wins and send quarterback Drew Lock and the senior class out with a bowl victory.
Mizzou fans will be quite familiar with the Cowboys, as they’re a former Big 12 foe. Ahead of the New Year’s Eve matchup in Memphis, here are five things to know about the Cowboys:
1. How the Cowboys got here
Seeing the Cowboys at 6-6 is a bit surprising, as they have incredible wins over both Texas and West Virginia on their resume. However, losses to Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Baylor really put a damper on what could have been a promising season.
It could have been a much better bowl for Oklahoma State, but with the inconsistencies they’ve battled through the year, they’re lucky to be going to a bowl game at all.
2. Their best offensive player is WR Tylan Wallace
Wallace finished second in the Big 12 with 79 catches, second with 1,408 yards and third with 11 touchdowns. After projected star Jalen McCleskey transferred a few weeks into the season, Wallace’s breakout sophomore season was a godsend for coach Mike Gundy and the Cowboys.
Against Mizzou’s shaky (but improving) secondary, expect Wallace and QB Taylor Cornelius to connect on a couple of big plays. Cornelius finished third in the Big 12 with 3,642 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, but he also tossed 11 interceptions — the most in the conference.
3. Their best defensive player is DE Jordan Brailford
The Cowboys don’t have a great defense, but Brailford can certainly get after the quarterback. The senior defensive end has a Big 12-best 10 sacks this year and has made 17 tackles for loss.
The Cowboys give up 437.1 yards per game, but at least Brailford has the potential to keep Lock uncomfortable in the pocket at times.
4. Their history with Missouri
The Tigers are 29-23 all-time against the Cowboys, with the last meeting coming in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 2013 regular season. The Tigers won that game 41-31 but lost their last three to Oklahoma State as a member of the Big 12.
These are all-new players this time around, though, and the Tigers have a new coach, so we’ll see what happens on New Year’s Eve.
5. Worth noting …
The Cowboys are 0-3 in their last three bowl games against SEC teams. As mentioned earlier, they lost the 2013 Cotton Bowl to Mizzou. They also dropped the 2009 Cotton Bowl to Ole Miss and the 2015 Sugar Bowl to those same Rebels.
In that span, they’re 6-0 in bowl games against non-SEC teams.
The Liberty Bowl kicks off at 3:45 p.m. Eastern time on New Year’s Eve and can be seen on ESPN.