ARLINGTON, Texas — For No. 9 Missouri, the Cotton Bowl was more than just a meeting with old rival Oklahoma State.
This game was about maintaining the SEC’s decade-long Cotton Bowl dominance in which the Tigers were responsible for the league’s only blemish.
“That was always in the back our mind,” said running back Henry Josey, who ran for three touchdowns. “We had to hold up the rep for the SEC.”
Josey’s final score was a 16-yarder with 3:08 left to finally put Mizzou ahead to stay in a wild fourth quarter, and Shane Ray returned a fumble 73 yards for a touchdown after that in a 41-31 victory over the No. 13 Cowboys late Friday night.
The former Big 12 and Big Eight rivals traded scores on six consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, until Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf was sacked by Michael Sam and fumbled with a minute left. Ray scooped up the ball and rumbled down the sideline in front of the stunned Cowboys bench to score.
SEC East champion Missouri (12-2) matched its school record for victories and gave the SEC its 10th win in the last 11 Cotton Bowls, all against the Big 12. The Tigers were the only Big 12 team in that span to win, six years ago in their other 12-win season.
The end of the Cotton Bowl was eerily similar for the Cowboys (10-3) to their regular-season finale a month ago, a 33-24 home loss to Oklahoma that cost them the Big 12 title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.
Desmond Roland had a go-ahead 1-yard run with 1:46 left that day, but the Sooners drove to score with 19 seconds left and added a 3-yard fumble recovery for a score on the final play of that game.
Roland bulled through the line with 5 minutes left in the Cotton Bowl for a 2-yard TD, dragging Ray with him into the end zone. Ray hit him at the line but couldn’t keep the running back from scoring the TD that gave the Cowboys their only lead, 31-27, only a few minutes after they thought they had a game-turning play.
Oklahoma State cornerback Tyler Patmon was in the end zone with his jubilant teammates after returning an interception for an apparent go-ahead touchdown with about 9 minutes left. A penalty flag, though, quickly doused the celebration and Mizzou turned the break into a tiebreaking field goal.
“I didn’t see it. I just saw two guys competing for the ball,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said, saying he was only told by the referees that Patmon interfered without getting a real explanation.
“It’s unfortunate. That play would have turned the game,” Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis said.