MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Oklahoma State hung on for dear life to win a Big 12-style Liberty Bowl against its former conference rival.
Taylor Cornelius tied a Liberty Bowl record with four touchdown passes and Kolby Peel made a critical fourth-down stop with 1:01 left as the Cowboys upset No. 24 Missouri 38-33 on Monday.
The teams combined for 1,139 total yards in the type of game that the Big 12’s high-powered offenses produce on most autumn Saturdays. Missouri left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012.
“(It was) like a lot of games that we play in our conference,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “As I said on the press conference a few days ago, Missouri would fit right in. It ended up being somewhat of a shootout, and the defense made a play at the end.”
Missouri (8-5) faced fourth-and-1 from Oklahoma State’s 9-yard line when quarterback Drew Lock attempted a keeper around the right end. Peel, a freshman, made a diving ankle tackle that stopped Lock short of the first-down marker.
“It’s a game of inches, we all talk about it and know it,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “I wouldn’t want the ball in anybody else’s hand besides No. 3 for the Mizzou Tigers (Lock).”
That allowed Oklahoma State (7-6) to survive a game it had led 35-19 heading into the fourth quarter. The Cowboys snapped Missouri’s four-game winning streak and avoided their first losing season since 2005, the first year of Gundy’s tenure.
Cornelius, a fifth-year senior and former walk-on, went 26 of 44. His four touchdown passes tied a record set four previous times in the Liberty Bowl’s 60-year history.
“It’s a great feeling to just go out on top,” Cornelius said. “As long as we get the win, that’s all that matters to me. I don’t care about the record.”
Cornelius also threw two interceptions to Cam Hilton that sparked Missouri’s comeback try. Both interceptions led to Missouri touchdowns – an 86-yard completion from Lock to Memphis resident Johnathon Johnson and a 55-yard run by Larry Rountree III.
Rountree ran for 204 yards and Johnson caught nine passes for 185 yards. Lock was 23 of 38 for 373 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Chuba Hubbard rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown for Oklahoma State. Tyron Johnson had seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Missouri wasted two chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State was clinging to a 35-33 lead when Mike Scott blocked Tucker McCann’s 42-yard field goal attempt with 9:22 left.
Matt Ammendola kicked a 27-yard field goal that extended Oklahoma State’s lead to 38-33 before Peel’s tackle sealed the win.
Missouri: This marks the second straight year that Missouri has lost a bowl game after a late-season surge. Last year, Missouri won its final six regular-season games but followed that up with a 33-16 loss Texas Bowl loss to Texas.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys entered the game ranked 99th in total defense and tied for 96th in scoring defense, but that beleaguered unit delivered when it mattered most. Oklahoma State is 6-1 in its last seven games against teams in the Top 25, and Gundy owns a 9-4 bowl record.
Oklahoma State was clinging to a 35-33 lead when the Cowboys made an unsuccessful fake punt attempt on fourth-and-8 from their own 27. Oklahoma State stayed ahead only after blocking a field-goal attempt.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Missouri made a curious move of its own by calling a timeout after scoring a touchdown to cut Oklahoma State’s lead to 35-25. After burning the timeout, Missouri chose to kick an extra point to make it 35-26 rather than attempting a two-point conversion.
Missouri’s hopes of ending a season ranked for the first time since 2014 are likely dashed.
The four previous Liberty Bowl players to four touchdown passes were Purdue’s Mark Herrmann (also against Missouri) in 1980, Illinois’ Johnny Johnson in 1994, South Carolina’s Blake Mitchell in 2006 and Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen in 2014.
Missouri’s 637 total yards also set a Liberty Bowl record.
Oklahoma State’s offense was missing leading rusher Justice Hill and guard Larry Williams, who sat out the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. Its defense lost cornerbacks Rodarius Williams and Kemah Siverand to targeting penalties – Williams in the first quarter and Siverand early in the fourth period – and safety Malcolm Rodriguez to a second-quarter injury.
Missouri played without injured running back Damarea Crockett and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. The Tigers also lost receiver Emanuel Hall to an injury after he caught two passes for 72 yards.
Missouri has Clemson graduate transfer Kelly Bryant ready to take over for Lock, the Tigers’ starting quarterback the last four seasons. The Tigers open the 2019 season Aug. 31 at Wyoming.
Oklahoma State also will break in a new starting quarterback. The Cowboys begin the 2019 season Aug. 30 at Oregon State.