Liberty Bowl Pick Missouri vs. Oklahoma State

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12/31/18

 

Points won’t be hard to come by in the Liberty Bowl that features two teams that don’t have trouble scoring. Missouri has been easier to rely on and has won its last Four, while Oklahoma State has been all over the place most of the season. That’s why the Tigers were -8 point favorites with an over/under of 74.5 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) a week before the Game in Memphis.

Missouri (7-5 ATS) didn’t have a bad loss on the Schedule and played everyone well, even the likes of Georgia and Alabama. Sure, the Tigers only beat Purdue by three points and lost at home to Kentucky, but they also routed every weaker defense and even won 38-17 at Florida.

Things were a bit different for Oklahoma State (6-6 ATS), who had great wins against Boise State, Texas and West Virginia but also lost to Baylor and TCU, among others. The Cowboys rarely showed up on the road and that’s going to be an issue against this Missouri offense. These teams met in the Cotton Bowl in the 2013 season and Missouri won 41-31 when Barry Odom was the defensive coordinator (now head coach) and Mike Gundy was still at OK State, a somewhat relevant result.

There’s a decent chance Missouri drops 50 points in this Game against an OK State defense that gave up 32.4 points per Game and 40-plus points numerous times. It wasn’t good in any aspect, allowing 4.5 yards per carry along with 24 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock’s numbers are down across the board with just 25 touchdowns and 7.83 yards per attempt, but he still torched a few defenses and threw multiple touchdowns in eight different Games. Big-play threat Emanuel Hall (21.6 yards per reception) could be the biggest problem for OK State, but this offense will be fine with running the ball after averaging 4.6 yards per carry. The running back duo of LArry Rountree (1,012 yards, 10 TDs) and Damarea Crockett (709 yards, 7 TDs) will be a lot to handle.

The question is if the Pokes will be able to keep up because Missouri’s defense has been better than in recent campaigns. The Tigers allowed a solid 24.4 points per contest and 3.6 yards per carry, but had some issues against the pass, allowing 7.7 yards per attempt and 256 yards per Game. A lot of that is because Missouri was often playing ahead, but it’s the reason South Carolina beat them and Purdue almost did.

Even with a new quarterback, the Cowboys have stayed elite offensively behind Taylor Cornelius with a solid 8.26 yards per attempt to go with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those aren’t the best numbers but he showed throughout the year he could put in big outings with the help of top wide outs Tylan Wallace (1,408 yards, 11 TDs) and Tyron Johnson (704 yards, 5 TDs). The absence of top running back Justice Hill is a bummer, but freshman Chuba Hubbard (595 yards, 6 TDs) is a good replacement and Cornelius was plenty mobile himself (385 rushing yards, 10 TDs).

Missouri is the easier team to back because of its consistency, but there’s no doubt if Cornelius shows up, he’ll be able to make a Game of it. The Tigers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven non-Conference Games, but 1-4 ATS in their last five against the Big 12. The Cowboys are 8-1 ATS in their last nine non-Conference Games and 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.

Our Pick –  Missouri -8.5