Missouri and Oklahoma State came so close to conference titles and being in the Bowl Championship Series.
The No. 9 Tigers and No. 13 Cowboys, who in the past have been in two leagues together, will instead play each other Jan. 3 in the Cotton Bowl, a pretty nice consolation a day after both missed shots at conference championships.
“Playing in the Cotton Bowl is a great reward for our team,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Sunday after the matchup was announced. “Certainly you want to be in a BCS bowl because it means you won a conference championship. … This location and venue, this is a great opportunity for the team and our fans.”
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After this season’s game, the Cotton Bowl will become part of the annual rotation for semifinal games in the new College Football Playoff. The game is played in the Dallas Cowboys’ massive stadium where the first national championship in the post-BCS era will be held next season.
Oklahoma State (10-2) was on track for a Big 12 title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series before a 33-24 loss at home to Oklahoma on Saturday.
Missouri (11-2) is coming off a 59-42 loss to Auburn in the SEC championship game in only its second season in that league.
“We know firsthand just how great of a trip this is, and how first-class of an operation the Cotton Bowl runs,” said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who is taking the Tigers to their ninth bowl in 13 seasons there.
Mizzou made its SEC debut in 2012 with its first losing season in eight years, and went only 2-6 in league play. The Tigers this season were SEC Eastern Division champions with a 7-1 conference record.
When Gundy cast a vote last week for some organization’s coach of the year honor, he voted for Pinkel.
Oklahoma State and Missouri were in the old Big Eight Conference together and then moved together from there to the Big 12. The Tigers have a 29-23 lead in the overall series and won five of their nine Big 12 meetings from 1996-2011, though Oklahoma State won the last three.
“I don’t know if it seems weird” playing Missouri, Gundy said. “We are still familiar with them. We played them so many years in a row and have watched them play. They’re very similar to the way they were.”
SEC teams have won nine of the last 10 Cotton Bowls, all over Big 12 teams. The lone exception in that span was the 2008 game when Missouri, then in the Big 12, beat Arkansas 38-7.
Oklahoma State is in its 11th bowl in 12 years, including Cotton Bowl losses to Mississippi in 2004 and 2010, the latter being the first time the bowl was played in the NFL stadium after leaving its namesake stadium at the State Fair of Texas.
The Cowboys’ only other Cotton Bowl was a 34-0 win over TCU in the 1945 game, a year before Missouri beat Texas in its only appearance in the game other than six seasons ago.
In last year’s game, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel set a Cotton Bowl record with 516 total yards as Texas A&M wrapped up its first SEC season with a 41-13 victory over Oklahoma. The Aggies had lost twice as a Big 12 team in the Cotton Bowl the previous eight years.