Two players will provide the best game within the game on Friday night when Missouri and Oklahoma State face off in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
When No. 15’s yellow jersey lines up against No. 4 in white, you’re guaranteed a must-see matchup.
Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert may cross paths plenty more times after Friday.
"You’re looking at two potential first-round draft picks," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "When you have that type of talent competing against each other, it will always be a lot of fun."
Green-Beckham was the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the 2012 class and stayed in his home state to become a Tiger. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound sophomore leads the Tigers with 55 receptions (12 for touchdowns) and 830 yards.
"His size and his potential, he’s young, but he’s been a pretty good player so far this year. I think he’s going to mature a lot more and be a pretty good player in the NFL," Gilbert said.
Gilbert, a Thorpe Award (best defensive back) finalist, picked off six passes this season, giving him 11 for his career. He returned two for touchdowns in 2013. After a disappointing 2012 season, he spent this season re-entering the discussion to be the first cornerback drafted in May’s NFL Draft. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior is one of the Big 12’s fastest players and uses his speed as his biggest asset in coverage. Green-Beckham compared Gilbert to Loucheiz Purifoy at Florida and said Gilbert be the best corner he’s has faced this season.
"He’s so athletic," Missouri receiver L’Damian Washington said. "You beat him on the play, but he’s got makeup speed like no other in the country."
Gilbert will spend plenty of time on Green-Beckham, but Washington, who led Mizozu in receiving yards with 853 yards and 10 touchdowns, will see Gilbert line up across from him as well. The Tigers like to move Green-Beckham from the strong and weak sides and play him some as a slot receiver. If that happens, Gilbert is unlikely to move with him, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said.
Gilbert is Oklahoma State’s biggest corner and spent about "85-90 percent" of Oklahoma State’s defensive snaps manned up 1-on-1 on receivers this season. With Green-Beckham, who’s proven an ability to use his size against smaller corners throughout his career, expect that percentage to drop.
"I’m not an idiot," Spencer said.
Gilbert and Green-Beckham won’t be the only players who’ll make returns to Cowboys Stadium later in their careers, but there’s a good chance they’ll be the best prospects on these teams. Consider it a treat when the two go head-to-head.