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Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State offense stumbles out of gates, can't produce in final minutes

MISSOURI 41, OKLAHOMA STATE 31 — The final score may look like the shootout many expected. But it took nearly three quarters for the Cowboys offense to get into its typical scoring mode.
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, Published: January 4, 2014

“And we missed some throws early in the game … when you play a team as good as they are, you're not gonna have much room for error.”

The Cowboys punted eight times Friday and committed three turnovers. They went 9-of-22 on third downs and struggled to convert up the middle on third-and-short.

And OSU first needed the defense to spark that offense.

A fumble recovery by James Castleman at the Missouri 33 led to the Seales touchdown catch that cut the Tigers' lead to 17-14. Then Shaun Lewis blew up an option pitch that Ryan Simmons recovered at the Missouri 11, which turned into Grogan's field goal that tied the score at 17 early in the fourth.

It's a disappointing end for an offense that made strides during the second half of the season under first-year coordinator Mike Yurcich. The Cowboys made key personnel switches at quarterback, running back and along the offensive line and added several wrinkles to put themselves in Big 12 title contention following a seven-game winning streak.

OSU also struggled in Bedlam — save for a late fourth-quarter drive that could have been the game-winner before Blake Bell's heroics.

Now, the Cowboys are set to undergo several changes heading into 2014.

They will go through a preseason quarterback derby for the third consecutive season, with part-time starter J.W. Walsh set to battle incoming freshman Mason Rudolph, junior Daxx Garman and redshirt freshman Richard Lagow and Jake Hubenak. OSU will also need to replace Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore at receiver, as well as two interior offensive linemen in All-Big 12 perfomer Parker Graham and Brandon Webb. Josh Stewart has also floated the idea of declaring early for the NFL Draft.

Friday night, the 2013 edition of the offense first couldn't find consistency. Then it held its own in a shootout. Then it made the crucial mistake.