2023 Ohio State University
A new quarterback and a new day has arrived for the Ohio State Buckeyes following the departure of starting quarterback Kyle McCord after his first career loss to the Buckeyes rival to the north. Stepping in is the former four-star prospect out of Utah, Devin Brown who wears the number 33 and competed with McCord at the beginning of the season for the starting gig. McCord wears the number 33 in honor of his favorite quarterback Sammy Baugh of the 1934-36 Texas Christian Horned Frogs. Baugh won the inaugural Cotton Bowl game 87 years ago and took home co-MVP for his performance in that game. The young Brown will take his first start in the 88th edition of the Cotton Bowl as he attempts to launch his career with an equally dominant performance to Sammy Baugh's in 1936.
No official announcement has been made by the Buckeyes on the status of the unanimous All-American and Heisman Finalist Marvin Harrison Jr., but it is expected that he will not be playing in this Friday's Cotton Bowl against Missouri. With him out Emeka Egbuka will take over as the number one target at wideout with Carnell Tate filling in at the two and Xavier Johnson and Brandon Innis in the slot. Top tight end Cade Stover and leading rusher TreVeyon Henderson will be active. The running back room has taken a hit however as Miyan Williams had season-ending surgery in October and both Chip Trayanum and Evan Pryor hit the transfer portal. Leaving Henderson alongside fifth string running back Dallan Hayden and the running back wide receiver combo player Xavier Johnson in the running back room.
Outside of Kyle McCord and Marvin Harrison Jr. it would appear the Buckeyes will be operating at close to full strength with most players that are draft eligible opting to play in the bowl game. Tommy Eichenberg remains questionable with an injury, but considering he has played with a cast on both hands in a game before it seems unlikely anyone will be able to keep him from playing.
The Buckeyes will be taking on the Missouri Tigers who finished third place in the SEC and ninth place in the CFP rankings. The Tigers only losses on the season came to now No. 6 Georgia and the now No. 13 LSU tigers. Mizzou was outgained in each game and had two costly turnovers in both of those losses that cost them the game. Mizzou's biggest stars WR Luther Burden III, QB Brady Cook and RB Cody Schrader are all expected to play.
Ohio State initially opened as a 6.5 point favorite against the Tigers, but since the departure of Kyle McCord the Buckeyes have fallen to a 3.5 point favorite. The points total has been set at 49.5 points as bettors have confidence in the two offenses that each averaged over 32 points per game this season. Ohio State still ranks as the no. 2 defense in the nation based on points allowed per game, while Mizzou's defense ranks 42nd in the same category allowing 22 points per game. Defensively the Buckeyes are the far superior team as they only allowed a team to score over 20 points once throughout the entire season while Mizzou's defense allowed teams to score over 20 points seven times this season. However, the Tigers hold an offensive edge over the Buckeyes as they have their top three offensive players active for the bowl game and the Buckeyes are likely going to be without their top two in McCord and Harrison Jr. The Tigers offense scored over 30 points in a game 10 times this season compared to just seven 30 point games for Ohio State this year. The two teams are complete opposites on the field and the winner will likely be whoever can play their style of football and dictate the pace of the game.
How to Watch & Listen:
TV: 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)