Friday's kickoff is set for 7:30 PM (ET) with the big FOX beaming the broadcast into your living room or favorite cantina from the House That Jerry Built in Arlington, TX. If nothing else, it gives Dallas Cowboys fans in the general area a chance to see their stadium put to good use with two excellent football teams going at it.
This is our second take on this game, first previewing the matchup a couple of weeks ago when we came away with a free pick on the 'over.' At the time, the scoreboard hurdle was 60.5, and the past few days have seen that number inch up to 61.5 at several shops charted by SBR's live college football odds.
I still like the high side of the total, but what about the spread? Missouri opened as 1.5 point chalk before it dropped to a pick 'em at several offshore sports books. Four days in advance of the game, the Tigers are now giving up a single point.
Making A Case For Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are coming off an impressive 10-win campaign, their only two losses an inexplicable setback at West Virginia at the end of September and a defeat at the hands of rival Oklahoma in the season finale. Mike Gundy's guys took the lead vs. the Sooners with less than two minutes left before OU stunned Oklahoma State with a pair of touchdowns in the final 19 seconds.
That loss undoubtedly still stings, not only in the manner it unfolded against a rival, but also since it kept the Cowboys from an BCS Bowl invite. The big question becomes how Gundy and his staff get their team to put that game in the past and focus on the present.
It shouldn't be too difficult since Okie State's opponent is a former rival from years spent in the Big 8 and Big 12. For the second consecutive Cotton Bowl, the Big 12 rep will get a shot at taking down one of its former conference foes who defected to the mighty SEC, and it just happens to be a team the Cowboys have enjoyed recent success against.
Oklahoma State has won and covered its last three meetings with Missouri, accomplishing that feat in four of the past five get-togethers. The Cowboys also got the cash for their backers in eight of the 12 regular season games, a string of six straight covers stopped in that loss to Oklahoma. The only time they weren't favored this season was just before Thanksgiving vs. Baylor, and the Cowboys pummeled the then-No. 4 Bears, 49-17, leaving OSU 3-1 straight up and against the spread in college football odds vs. ranked teams on the season.
Making A Case For Missouri
Gary Pinkel and the Tigers were one bad quarter -- and one missed field goal -- away from going through the regular season undefeated, and that's a tough accomplishment in any conference, much less the SEC. Just like Oklahoma State's setback to Oklahoma, Missouri's loss to South Carolina in late-October was one the Tigers let get away after holding a 17-point lead heading into the final quarter, eventually dropping a 27-24 decision in double overtime when a missed chip-shot field goal by Mizzou kept the game from a third OT.
Of course, then came a 59-42 loss to Auburn in the SEC Championship, a game in which the Tigers once again ran out of steam late in the shootout. So like Gundy and his assistants, Pinkel and his staff are having to pick up their team after a disappointing defeat.
In addition to covering 11 of their 13 games, the good news for Tiger backers is they should be pretty much at full strength for this one after it looked as if the receiver corps was going to be very thin. The team's top four receivers all came out of the SEC title tilt a bit banged-up, but the quartet -- L'Damian Washington, Dorial Green-Beckham, Bud Sasser and Marcus Lucas -- are each listed as probable Friday vs. Oklahoma State.
The SEC has owned Big 12 schools in this bowl game recently, winning nine of the last 10 meetings. That lone Big 12 team to earn the dubya was Missouri after the '07 campaign, and I'm going to side with history for my free college football pick in this one with a play on the Tigers.
My pick: Missouri -1
Reg. Season: 31-15 (+14.5)