The No. 8 Missouri Tigers hit the practice field one final time with a 90-minute workout at AT&T Stadium with the 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic looming in two days. Mizzou (11-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) took time to work on its final adjustments, while making sure to continue its emphasis on fundamentals in preparation for the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 7-2 Big 12 Conference).
Leading the list of 32 Tigers returning to their home state for the program’s 30th bowl game is senior QB James Franklin. Head coach Gary Pinkel said the Corinth, Texas native has been the catalyst in Mizzou’s breakout season in the SEC after the team was picked to finish sixth in the conference’s Eastern Division.
“A year ago was remarkable what he had to go through,” said head coach Gary Pinkel. “To see his maturity and see him be able to deal with all the adversity he had like he always does. It made him tougher mentally, a little bit more resilient and a little bit more determined. When you get hurt and you’re sitting on the bench and it’s something that’s real important to you, you sit there and shake your head a little bit. Our players have great respect for him. He’s a great leader and he’s had a great, great year for us.”
Franklin and the other seniors closed practice with the Tiger tradition of taking their last hits in a Mizzou uniform before their final game.
“The seniors give so much,” said Pinkel. “This is the last practice they are going to have. You add up the number of practices, how many times they lifted weights, all of the conditioning they’ve done and all the time they’ve put into this place the last four or five years, it’s the tradition of their last hit to honor them. It’s a lot of fun. They’re creative in their own way. It’s a great statement for the seniors and what they’ve done. It’s fun for our whole football team.”
The Tigers will enjoy another quiet night and then a restful day at their hotel headquarters prior to game day. The 78th Cotton Bowl Classic is Friday, Jan. 3 with kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m.