Naveau: Ohio State still has enough options to beat Missouri


Ohio State and Missouri share some history on the football field going into today’s Cotton Bowl but it’s mostly ancient history.

OSU and Missouri’s two most recent games against each other were in 1997 and 1998.

In 1998, Ohio State coach Ryan Day was a freshman in college. And Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz wasn’t old enough to get a driver’s license in most states.

Ohio State won both those games by big scores over Missouri teams coached by Van Wert native and former Shawnee High School coach Larry Smith.

OSU was a 31-10 winner at Missouri in 1997 in a game remembered mostly for a huge hit Andy Katzenmoyer put on the Tigers’ quarterback Corby Jones. In 1998, OSU won 35-14 at home after trailing at halftime.

Ohio State is 10-1-1 against Missouri overall with nine of those games being played between 1939 and 1949.

Playing in the Cotton Bowl isn’t what Ohio State had in mind when this season began, in the middle of it or when it went into the Michigan game with an 11-0 record.

But a surprising number of OSU players who could have opted out of this game have said they will play in it.

When Kyle McCord, Chip Trayanum and Evan Pryor entered the transfer portal there was an expectation their transfers would be followed by some of their teammates skipping the Cotton Bowl, as players like Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave,Haskell Garrett and Nicholas Petit-Frere did when OSU played in the Rose Bowl two years ago.

Even Marvin Harrison Jr., who would seem to have every reason not to play, had not revealed if he intends to be in uniform or be active on game day as of Thursday.

No. 7 Ohio State (11-1) probably would have been tested by No. 9 Missouri (10-2) even if both teams had gone into this match-up with their full rosters.

The Tigers’ two losses were by nine points against Georgia and by 10 points to LSU and Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels.

They have a quarterback, Brady Cook, who passed for 3,189 yard and 20 touchdowns this season, a running back, Cody Schrader, who rushed for 1,499 and 13 touchdowns, and a former 5-star receiver Luther Burden (83 catches for 1,197 yards and 8 touchdowns).

Missouri did not lose any significant players to the transfer portal but it will be without two defensive starters because of injuries – linebacker Tyron Hopper and cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. Hopper was the No. 2 tackler for the Tigers this season with 55.

Ohio State has a significant injury question, too, with leading tackler and Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Tommy Eichenberg still bothered by an arm injury he suffered against Rutgers.

The Ohio State player under the brightest spotlight is, of course, quarterback Devin Brown, who will be making his first start.

If the freshman quarterback plays a great game or even a pretty good one, OSU’s fan base will be optimistic about next season. If he has a rough debut, the sky will be falling and there will be calls for Lincoln Kienholz or incoming freshman Air Noland to be the starter.

Ohio State’s players have talked about how they want to finish the season the right way with a win in the Cotton Bowl.

It probably won’t be easy but they should do that.

The prediction: Ohio State 28, Missouri 20

No posts to display