The Cotton Bowl is not where Ohio State wanted to be. The Buckeyes are a program where anything less than the Big Ten championship and the College Football Playoff is a failure. That might seem harsh, but that is the standard at Ohio State. The Buckeyes went 11-1 but lost the one game which mattered most, the road trip to Michigan against the Wolverines. Ohio State lost its division, its conference, and a playoff spot when it fell short against Michigan.
Because the Buckeyes had a failed season (in their own eyes), a number of important Ohio State players will not be playing in this game, including starting quarterback Kyle McCord, who transferred to Syracuse. We do not yet know if elite Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. will play in this game or opt out for the NFL draft. The decision Harrison makes could move betting lines three or four points, so you will want to be watching for his decision in the coming days.
Missouri is thrilled to be in this game and a favorite on the Cotton Bowl odds. The Tigers are playing in their first New Year’s Six bowl game, having won 10 games this year under coach Eli Drinkwitz, who has done a fantastic job in Columbia. That begs the question: what’s the best betting strategy for this game?
Missouri Tigers vs Ohio State Buckeyes
Date: Friday, December 29th, 2023 – 8:00 PM ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Cotton Bowl Odds at BetUs: Missouri -1
*Read the full BetUs review for more details
Missouri linebacker Carmycah Glass, offensive lineman Valen Erickson, linebacker D.J. Wesolak, offensive lineman E.J. Ndoma-Ogar, linebacker Dameon Wilson, and backup quarterback Dylan Liable entered the transfer portal. They will not play in this game.
Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw and linebackers Chad Bailey and Ty’Ron Hopper are injured. They will not play in this game.
Missouri won’t be at full strength but will have its main skill position players available for this game. The Tigers lost to Georgia this season but gave the Bulldogs a good battle. Missouri also lost to LSU in a shootout. The Tigers took care of everyone else on their slate, though they did have some shaky games and close calls, notably against Florida. They had to convert a 4th and 17 late in the game to survive against a Florida team which did not even qualify for a bowl game this season. Missouri will need its very best performance to handle Ohio State, even though the Buckeyes will be shorthanded.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State starting quarterback Kyle McCord has transferred to Syracuse. He will not play in this game.
Many other Ohio State players are in the transfer portal and will not play in this game: receiver Julian Fleming, linebacker Reid Carrico, offensive lineman Jakob James, safety Kye Stokes, safety Cameron Martinez, running back Evan Pryor, cornerback Ryann Turner, cornerback Jyaire Brown, kicker Parker Lewis, offensive lineman Victor Cutler, wide receiver Connor Cmiel, and linebacker Omari Abor.
Ohio State needs Marvin Harrison to play in this game and give the OSU offense a chance to succeed. If Harrison opts out, Ohio State won’t have the elite speed it needs to threaten the Missouri offense. Keep in mind that Julian Fleming is also a talented receiver for OSU who has entered the transfer portal. Harrison would at least give the Buckeyes their best home-run hitter and downfield playmaker. We’re going to assume that Harrison will play, but if he doesn’t, change your prediction accordingly versus point spread.
Missouri vs. Ohio State Prediction:
Ohio State 23, Missouri 20