The unit that carried OSU through the season once again kept the Cowboys alive by forcing turnovers. Justin Gilbert got it started early with an interception, and two fumble recoveries lifted the Pokes back into the game. Had a Tyler Patmon pick six not been called back due to a controversial penalty, the game could have been vastly different. Without the big plays provided by the defense, Missouri might have won easily.
OSU pass coverage: B+
The OSU secondary did a commendable job covering a dangerous group of MU receivers led by Dorial Green-Beckham. Gilbert set the tone by intercepting a deflected pass and Daytawion Lowe made waves with seven tackles and solid coverage. Possibly the biggest star was Patmon, who held his own with Green-Beckham and almost had the play of the game. Missouri starter James Franklin was held to 15-of-40 passing for 174 yards.
Clint Chelf: B+ — with bonus points
The quarterback threw two picks and fumbled on OSU's final drive, but finished with 377 yards on 57 pass attempts and three total touchdowns. Chelf looked bad for much of the game, but got it together and composed an effort that makes him second to Brandon Weeden for most passing yards by an OSU quarterback in a bowl game. His 23-yard run to tie the game at 24 with 9:51 left was gutsy and one of the definitive plays of Chelf's career. He finished his time at OSU with a game that reflects what his game has always been about — not always spectacular, but certainly respectable.
The Cowboys finished with decent numbers, but a struggling running game, spotty pass protection, questionable play-calling and three Chelf turnovers made for a night that left a lot to be desired. This offense was far from what OSU fans have gotten used to in recent bowl games.
OSU hurt itself in a big way with 10 penalties for 100 yards. Some calls could have gone either way, but multiple personal fouls gave Missouri momentum while the Cowboys also suffered from the smaller penalties. Most notably, a delay of game pushed OSU back 5 yards before Ben Grogan narrowly missed a field goal.
Containment on Maty Mauk: F
In one drive, the Missouri backup quarterback changed the course of the game. Mauk broke two 30-plus yards runs and also used his feet to complete two passes on the Tigers' scoring drive midway through the second quarter. The OSU defense was nowhere to be found, letting Mauk slip out of the pocket and overpursuing in the open field. Mauk didn't see much action beyond that drive, but it had a huge impact on what ended up being a close game.
AT&T Cotton Bowl experience: A+
For coaches, players and media alike, the Cotton Bowl hosted a great week. The game's sellout crowd was intense and the game ended up being a thriller. The Cotton Bowl lived up to its reputation as one of the best bowl games there is.