ARLINGTON, Texas — For much of the night, Oklahoma State's defense kept the Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri.
OSU kept the heat on James Franklin and gave the offense the support it needed before finally getting untracked.
In the end, though, when the Cowboys needed it most, the OSU defense wilted.
The result was a 41-31 loss to the Tigers at AT&T Stadium and ending the season with two consecutive losses.
On Missouri's first 14 drives, the Cowboys held the Tigers to seven punts, forced three turnovers and made a stop on fourth down.
Oklahoma State's defense was doing everything it needed to give the Big 12 its first Cotton Bowl win since Missouri in 2008.
Then things started crumbling.
The Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns and a field goal on their final three drives.
On the second of those drives, midway through the fourth quarter, it looked like Oklahoma State's defense had seized control.
With the game tied at 24, Tyler Patmon picked off a Franklin pass and returned it 40 yards for an apparent touchdown.
But Patmon was flagged for pass interference, one of 10 penalties called on the Cowboys, and the Tigers were able to get a go-ahead field goal.
“Both the receiver and the defender have a right to the football,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said after asking reporters what they thought. “They said that our guy interfered with him.”
Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis didn't overtly question the call but clearly wasn't happy with it.
“I felt as if both guys were competing for the ball,” Gundy said. “I didn't really see the pass interference.”
On the next Missouri drive, the Cowboys again nearly made a defensive play that could've turned the tide.
Linebacker Caleb Lavey nearly pulled down an interception intended for Dorial Green-Beckham.
The next play, Green-Beckham had a 27-yard reception and on the next play, the Tigers took a 34-31 lead on Henry Josey's 16-yard touchdown.
“Looking back on it now, I wish I would've brought that sucker in,” Lavey said. “You can't dwell on the plays behind us so I guess it's just one of those things.”
The Cowboys defense held the line for much of the night with a bend-but-not break defensive performance.
OSU forced Missouri to punt on two drives of eight plays or more.
The biggest star for the Cowboys' defense was sophomore defensive end Jimmy Bean.
Bean had seven tackles — five solo, including three for a loss and a sack.
Bean hadn't had more than four tackles in any game coming into the game.
But even when he wasn't making plays that showed up on the stat sheet, Bean was making things difficult for Franklin and the Missouri offense.
If Oklahoma State is to contend for a Big 12 title next season, there's a good chance Bean will need to be a part of that.
The Cowboys lose much of the core on defense, returning just four starters, including Bean.