The New Year’s Six will get off to a hot start this Friday (12/29/23) as the surging #9 Missouri Tigers take on the perennial juggernaut #7 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl. Get ready for a big Dallas showdown with Missouri vs. Ohio State odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is Missouri on the moneyline at -105 odds.
Missouri vs. Ohio State Prediction
For Ohio State, any season that doesn’t end with a win over Michigan, a Big Ten title, or a trip to the College Football Playoff is viewed as a failure, but they still have a chance to complete a campaign that almost any program would be ecstatic about. The Buckeyes have already won 11 games for the third straight season, are appearing in the New Year’s six for the 10th straight year, and could win a bowl for the third time in four campaigns, which would guarantee their own 12+ win campaign since 2019.
Still, the third straight loss to a far superior Michigan team stings for Ryan Day and everyone remotely associated with the program. Kyle McCord failed to fill the shoes of CJ Stroud, who to be completely fair, also didn’t ever beat Michigan, and is transferring out to be the next quarterback at Syracuse, so it’s time for a fresh start in Columbus. Perhaps, we’ll get a look at Devin Brown, who could be McCord’s heir after spending a year as his backup, but he’s had some injury concerns, and the Buckeyes may hit the portal this offseason either way, so it’s hard to truly project their quarterback situation in either the immediate or long term.
Meanwhile, a very similar season for Missouri is being perceived very differently; it’s a true breakthrough for coach Eli Drinkwitz, after winning no more than six games in any of his first three seasons running the program. The Tigers are 10-2, already marking their first double-digit win season since 2014 under Gary Pinkel. They have a chance to win their first bowl since that season, and their first bowl of this magnitude since the season before, when they won the Cotton Bowl and finished #5 in the final AP poll.
It’s always tough to evaluate motivation when it comes to bowl season, but the Tigers seem plenty fired up about the opportunity ahead of them. The star duo of quarterback Brady Cook and wideout Luther Burden have expressed no inclination towards opting out, nor has anyone else on the Tigers’ roster. They should be more or less intact for this game as they look to top off a fantastic resume that already includes big wins over Kansas State, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
If this was a playoff game, with everything on the line, it would be ridiculous not to project Ohio State. Alas, that’s not the situation, and what is on the table means much more to Mizzou than it does to OSU. The Tigers are also coming in with one of the best quarterbacks in the country, while the Buckeyes will be breaking in a backup or completely new passer, depending on Brown’s status.
Ohio State might have a tough time exploiting Mizzou’s greatest weakness, their pass offense, while Mizzou should be able to move the football just as they did in a closely-fought loss against Georgia. It’s going to be a great ballgame, especially if some of OSU’s stars opt in, but it’s simply a higher priority for an excellent Tigers team, and their intensity should be rewarded with a win.
Missouri vs. Ohio State Prediction: Missouri ML (-105)
Missouri vs. Ohio State Best Odds
Given the potential outpouring of talent, Ohio State is only favored by a point against this rising Missouri team, or -115 on the moneyline. It’s essentially a dead heat with Mizzou’s moneyline sitting at -105, and both sides of the total of 49 are set at -110.
Missouri vs. Ohio State Key Matchups
With Kyle McCord definitely out of Columbus and no guarantee that we’ll see a heavy dose of Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State will need a strong day from their rushing offense, while Mizzou will continue to put the ball in the air as they have all year.
Missouri Air Attack vs. Ohio State Pass Defense
Even without the benefit of playing in the conference championship game, Brady Cook was the third-most prolific passer in the SEC with over 3,000 yards, trailing only Heisman winner Jayden Daniels and Georgia starter Carson Beck. Mizzou wideout Luther Burden was also the third-leading receiver in the conference with a total of 1,197 yards on 83 catches, as he established himself as one of the Nation’s best.
That star duo, the heart of country’s tenth-best passing offense by EPA per play, will be throwing into the sixth-best pass defense by the same metric. It’s not clear whether key edge rusher JT Tuimoloau will be playing, but he could create some real trouble for Cook in the backfield if he’s active. The Buckeyes also featured the sixth-best secondary in the country as per PFF, highlighted by safety Josh Proctor and top corner Jordan Hancock.
Ohio State Rushing Offense vs. Missouri Ground Defense
Secondary back Chip Trayanum is transferring, and Miyan Williams has opted out amidst injury issues, but top rusher TreVeyon Henderson is coming back next year. He should be running for the Buckeyes to cap off a season in which he’s averaged 6.2 yards per carry, while running behind the 38th-best run-blocking line in the nation, as per PFF.
They’ll be attacking a Mizzou run defense that ranked 38th in the country by EPA per play, a real advantage compared to the 78th-best mark from the Buckeyes’ ground offense. Edge rusher Darius Robinson will be the anchor of the unit, with linebacker Chad Bailey injured and out for the rest of the season.