2018 Liberty Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
Win it for America.
Not affiliated with the Liberty Bell, the 2018 Liberty Bowl comes our way.
Okay, fine, it is affiliated with the birthplace of American independence. This contest used to be played in Philadelphia back in its earliest days, but that only lasted for four years. It then moved to Atlantic City for a year before bouncing down to its current home in Memphis, Tennessee.
On New Year’s Eve 2018, the SEC and Big 12 meet. It was not long ago, however, that the two contenders considered themselves conference foes. Oklahoma State represents the Big 12’s current composition while the Missouri Tigers, now in the SEC, are in the ranks of the former members. Will Missouri flex their muscle against the Pokes, or will Oklahoma State defend Big 12 honor?
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2018 Liberty Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Monday, December 31, 2018, 3:45pm ET (12:45pm PT)|
|Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$4,294,681 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Missouri is an 8-point favorite|
2018 Liberty Bowl: Missouri Tigers
|8-4 (4-4 SEC); 5th in SEC East|
|Best Win: Florida|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 19th, Total Offense 16th, Rushing Offense 43rd, 3rd Downs 20th, Time of Possession 39th, Turnover Margin 68th, Sacks Allowed 10th, Red Zone 38th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 44th, Total Defense 52nd, Rushing Defense 22nd, Opponent 3rd Downs 14th, Sacks Per Game 67th, TFL Per Game 74th, Interceptions 90th, Opponent Red Zone 101th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 61st, Punts Per Game 107th|
2018 Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys
|6-6 (3-6 Big 12); 9th in Big 12|
|Best Wins: West Virginia and Texas|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 14th, Total Offense 10th, Rushing Offense 47th, 3rd Downs 34th, Time of Possession 118th, Turnover Margin 113th, Sacks Allowed 94th, Red Zone 26th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 96th, Total Defense 100th, Rushing Defense 81st, Opponent 3rd Downs 38th, Sacks Per Game 5th, TFL Per Game 12th, Interceptions 117th, Opponent Red Zone 6th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 73rd, Punts Per Game 86th|
2018 Liberty Bowl: Head-to-Head
Here’s a Big 12 throwback game, as we already established. Mizzou and Oklahoma State tangled often as conference foes back in the day, and this will be the 53rd meeting between the Cowboys and Tigers.
Missouri leads the series, 29-23. They last faced off in the 2014 Cotton Bowl; Missouri won that contest, 41-31. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 Liberty Bowl: Pick
Mizzou had another solid year of improvement in 2018, grabbing their first 8-win season since 2014. Things are trending in the right direction in Columbia. One big reason why has been Drew Lock, the senior quarterback and Missouri native who threw for over 3,100 yards this season and 25 touchdowns. 2018 was his most accurate season though his touchdowns and yardage are way down from last year. That does not mean he hasn’t been crucial to their success. With better defense, Lock does not need to throw four or five touchdowns per game.
Lock IS playing in the Liberty Bowl, in what will be his last ride before being one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft. (Link: Daily Memphian) Give that kid some of your respect, whether Mizzou wins the game or not. With the new vogue trend being “I’m not playing, sorry, guys,” Lock is finishing what he started. He could be a first round draft pick, perhaps even in the top ten, but he is leading Missouri on New Year’s Eve. That is bad news for Oklahoma State and their 96th-ranked defense.
Oklahoma State is a weird team. They are quite good at some things, like putting points on the board, getting to the quarterback, and holding opponents in the red zone, and bad at others, like keeping their competition off the scoreboard and generating turnovers. Statistically, quarterback Taylor Cornelius has had about as much success as Lock, with a few less completions and a few more interceptions. However, like some other Big 12 teams, those defensive struggles inhibited them. The Pokes allowed at least 30 points in a game eight times this season. They also put together good efforts against better teams, beating up Boise State, taking down Texas and West Virginia, and coming within a point of a massive upset of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State then lost games to middling Big 12 teams like Kansas State, Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech. This is a classic example of a team playing up or down to their level of competition.
We know what Mizzou brings to the table and with all things being as they should, they deserve to be favored. Which Oklahoma State shows up — the one that beat three ranked teams or the one that had a losing record against the bottom of the Big 12? Another note is that the Pokes were not great away from home this year.