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Missouri falls to Oklahoma State in Liberty Bowl

It was a dumb game marred with boneheaded coaching decisions on both sides

NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl-Missouri vs Oklahoma State Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his best efforts to lead the team to victory and Barry Odom’s best efforts to prevent that, Drew Lock’s collegiate career came to an unceremonious end on Monday afternoon as the Missouri Tigers ended their season with a 38-33 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Liberty Bowl.

The Cowboys put Mizzou on their heels right away, as the Tigers went three-and-out to begin the game, punted, then allowed Taylor Cornelius to lead OSU right down the field for a 30 yard touchdown pass to Dillon Stoner. Mizzou’s next drive saw a big play from Lock to Emanuel Hall to get them first and goal on the six, followed by two runs for a combined -1 yard and an incomplete pass. Odom made his first questionable decision of the day, deciding to take a 24 yard field goal instead of trying to even up the score.

The Tigers grabbed their first lead of the game midway through the second quarter when Lock found Dominic Gicinto for a five-yard touchdown to cap off a 97 yard drive in which Lock and Larry Rountree moved the ball with ease. Because nothing can ever be nice, Tucker McCann sent the kickoff out of bound and Oklahoma State took advantage of the short field as Cornelius found Tyron Johnson for a seven yard strike to get the Cowboys back ahead.

Lock answered on the next drive to Kendal Blanton though, and Mizzou recaptured the lead (Corey Fatony missed the extra point, making it a 16-14 game). After forcing an Oklahoma State punt, Mizzou got the ball back with 2:31 left in the half and Odom decided to play conservatively and punted after getting to midfield, ending the half with a two-point Mizzou lead.

Odom’s decision to not go for points backfired immediately, as Cornelius hit Tylan Wallace for a touchdown, then Mizzou fumbled away their first offensive play after the kickoff, putting OSU in premium territory which they took advantage up as Chuba Howard rushed it in to put the Cowboys up 28-16.

Lock led the offense down the field after getting the ball back, and Mizzou’s red zone woes kicked up yet again, with a decision to make on 4th and 4 from the eight. Despite being down by 12, Odom chose to kick it to cut the lead to nine, which was yet another awful decision.

That decision also immediately backfired, as Cornelius found Wallace again, this time for a 46 yard score. The Missouri offense sputtered and finally went for it on fourth down, this time 4th and 6 from the OSU 46, and couldn’t convert. It looked as if that would be the end of the game, but Cam Hilton grabbed an interception to open the fourth quarter and Lock hit Jonathan Johnson for an 86 yard touchdown on the very next play to bring the score to 35-25.

What we have next is perhaps Odom’s most inexcusable decision of the entire game. Trailing by ten, Missouri sent the offense out to try and make it a one possession game. Odom then CALLED A TIME OUT, AND SENT THE FIELD GOAL UNIT OUT INSTEAD TO CUT THE LEAD TO NINE. Not only did Odom fail to make it a one-possession game, he burned a valuable timeout in the dumbest possible spot to turn a two-possession game into a two-possession game.

Hilton saved Mizzou again on the next drive, though, this time intercepting a pass in the end zone. Larry Rountree answered with a 55 yard rushing touchdown and Mizzou kicked another extra point to cut it to 35-33, instead of having a chance to tie the game.

Oklahoma State would later tack on a field goal, and Mizzou’s final drive would end with Lock being tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a 4th and 1 in the red zone to end the game and sealing the 38-33 victory for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys.

It’s a shame to see Lock’s career end this way, because it was all so preventable and it didn’t have to be like this.

To wrap this up, I want to say one more thing about Odom. The past 6-8 weeks have been perhaps his best as head coach at Mizzou. The team has been winning games, Kelly Bryant committed to the school, Odom got a nice raise and extension, there was goodwill aplenty. Now, that goodwill is mostly gone. Odom made no fewer than five boneheaded decisions on Monday, any one of which could be considered a backbreaker for Mizzou in what turned out to be a one-possession game. If the Tigers are going to continue to be bowl eligible by facing a weak nonconference slate and benefitting from the diminished SEC East, that’s fine. But at some point, Odom is going to have to do more than that. Is next season a make or break year for him? Probably. We said that about this season as well, but landing Bryant to replace Lock likely bought him another year of being off the hot seat. But eventually, things need to improve, especially if Odom is going to continue to pride himself on being a defensive-minded head coach.