5 Thoughts - 2008 Cotton Bowl
Missouri RB Tony Temple
Missouri RB Tony Temple
Posted Jan 1, 2008

Everyone came to see a running game, and the wrong one showed up.

5 Thoughts - Cotton Bowl

Missouri 38 ... Arkansas 7

Missouri 38 ... Arkansas 7
- 2008 CFN Cotton Bowl Preview
- 2008 Cotton Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More

By Pete Fiutak   

1. 38-7. Arkansas might have undergone a coaching change, but it’s not like Reggie Herring, the interim head man, was unfamiliar with the team and the personnel. It’s not like Darren McFadden and the running game were going to not play as hard just because Houston Nutt was off wearing an Ole Miss sweater. 38-7. This was a sheer pasting by a Tiger team with something to prove, and with the Hogs playing unfocused and uneven game with five turnovers, this wasn’t pretty. Nothing looked quite in sync, but the vaunted ground attack never quite seemed right in last year’s Capital One Bowl loss to Wisconsin, either. 38-7. Missouri might be really good, but this wasn’t exactly the SEC’s finest hour.

2. Arizona State got dissed (sorry, I hate that term too, but it applies here) by the BCS, but it proved it didn’t belong in the big show with the Holiday Bowl loss to Texas. Missouri showed exactly what a team is supposed to do if it feels like it doesn’t get the proper respect: it goes out and wins in a blowout. Now there’s no question that Missouri deserved to be in one of the big money games. Now it’ll be up to Kansas to prove it deserved the Orange Bowl spot against Virginia Tech. Now it appears Missouri really might have been a worthy national title team and not just a flash-in-the-pan fluke. Now the expectations are going to be jacked through the roof in Columbia going into 2008, and that’s not a bad thing. A win like this will give the Tigers the respect in the polls, and the benefit of the doubt down the stretch if they have another big year.

3. Think about all the great players in the history of the Cotton Bowl, and all the great runners from the Southwest Conference, SEC, and Big 12. Tony Temple beat them all. All the focus was on the Heisman stars, Chase Daniel and Darren McFadden, but it was Temple who stole the show with four touchdown runs and 281 yards, 117 more than the Arkansas rushing attack. Oklahoma did a great job of taking Temple away in the Big 12 Championship, and he wasn’t around in the first meeting, and the Tigers all talked about his absence being the difference. As this game proved, they might have been right. Daniel didn’t need to be a superstar, and he wasn’t. This was Temple’s game, and while he won’t be around next year, his performance showed that the Mizzou offense can be about more than the passing game.

4. The Missouri defensive line beat the Arkansas offensive line. It’s that simple. The Hogs controlled the time of possession and were able to go on a few marches, but they couldn’t convert on enough third downs, QB Casey Dick wasn’t special under intense pressure, and the running game wasn’t the normal running game. Blame the Tiger defense for that. This is a Hog offense that needs the star backs to be explosive, and when they’re bottled up or not cranking out yards in chunks, there’s nothing to fall back on. The Tiger defensive line never let McFadden or Felix Jones get in the open and controlled the game early on.

5. The Cotton Bowl might have the big name and might have a great history, but it hasn’t been the best of the bowl games over the last few years. Many of the games have been close, but they’ve hardly been scintillating showdowns. The matchups have looked good on paper, but they just haven’t been compelling compared to the Big Ten vs. SEC showdowns in the Outback and Capital One. Arkansas vs. Missouri should’ve been far better, but the Heisman were mediocre, Arkansas couldn’t stop making mistakes, and with so many good games going on elsewhere, this was the dud of the day.