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January 2, 2014
The more things change...
ARLINGTON, TX--Bowl games often bring together two teams that have rarely--sometimes even never--played before. The Cotton Bowl carries no such storyline.
Missouri and Oklahoma State have met 51 times dating back to their days in the Big Eight and Big 12. The Tigers hold a 28-23 edge, but Oklahoma State has won four of the last five, including three in a row. Mike Gundy has won three of his four matchups against Gary Pinkel.
"We've had some good battles with them. Missouri is a team that over a 20-25 year period has been better at football than what people think across the country," Gundy said. "We've always had a lot of respect for them. Coach (Pinkel) has been there for quite a while now, so he's established and he has done a great job with them during that time."
Of course, this is the first time the Tigers and Cowboys have faced off in two years and the first time the game is a non-conference tilt. Missouri moved to the Southeastern Conference following the 2011 season while Oklahoma State still resides in the Big 12.
"The Big 12, I have great respect for them I always have and always will. And certainly we are very proud to be a member of the SEC," Pinkel said. "The statement I have always had is the Big 12 has some real good football teams, but the SEC just has more. That is the difference. That is a very honest evaluation of two very good leagues."
"Just showing what we're capable of doing in the SEC, our offense going against the best. The SEC is one of the best conferences," wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham said. "We've just got to show what our offense is capable of doing. I think in the SEC we showed what we're capable of doing as an offense."
"They come from a tough conference in the SEC and have done a good job of competing over there," Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis said. "They're a great opponent. They were playing for the SEC championship so you know they're pretty good."
Of course, only two of those teams are playing on Friday night. The current Big 12 vs former Big 12 team angle has been and will continue to be built up leading to kickoff. But once the ball is in the air, it has no impact on the outcome.
Both teams and coaching staffs are familiar with one another (the Cowboys feature a former Mizzou captain in wide receivers coach Jason Ray and Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Henson played at Oklahoma State). But a lot can change in two years.
""I think with schemes all those things change, offensively you do some different things with personnel, defensive you do. I think what you see with Coach (Mike) Gundy, is that he has continued to build the program," Pinkel said. "Regardless of the plays you run offensively or defensively, are you fundamental? Are you well coached? Are you disciplined? Do you not beat yourself, with turnovers and penalties? He has developed his program and continues to develop it. I just see a very well coached team with a lot of talent and that is why they are 10-2. That is why they are here."
"We are excited about playing against Missouri, who is a very good football team. As you know they had a good season and beat a bunch of good quality football teams on the road," Gundy countered. ""They are very good up front and their ends are excellent pass rushers. They have big guys up front who have good push on the offensive linemen. When we started to watch tape I was impressed at their ability to rush the passer."
The Tigers and Cowboys kick off at 7 p.m. Central time on Friday night. The game will be televised nationally by Fox and PowerMizzou.com will have complete coverage from Arlington.
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