The Missouri Tigers fell short of making a BCS bowl this season when their run defense was shredded in the SEC Championship game against the Auburn Tigers. Despite that loss, Missouri has had a great season and will look to finish it off strong against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. For them to come out ahead of the Pokes, Mizzou needs their defensive line to play much better to contain the running game.
Defensive linemen Michael Sam and Markus Golden have had a great season, combining for 17 sacks this season as the bookends to one of the best pass rushes in the country. But as they get after the quarterback, they need to make sure they are closing the pocket down around the QB to prevent scrambles for big gains, especially against the surprisingly mobile Clint Chelf of Oklahoma State. Maintaining the edge of the line and keeping pass rush lanes secure will be a huge factor in the Cotton Bowl this season.
Chelf is not really considered the mobile quarterback in the Oklahoma State backfield but he has run enough to be dangerous since working his way back into the starting lineup. In the final six games of the season, Chelf ran for 80 yards or more three times and rushed into the endzone five times. He picked his spots to tuck the ball and run and created huge plays for the Cowboys as they made their push to winning seven of their last eight games.
To keep Chelf from breaking the game open in the Cotton Bowl, Missouri has to keep him penned in using the talented defensive line. If they fail to keep those running lanes closed down, they’ll get shredded in a very similar fashion to the SEC title game loss.