Missouri DE Michael Sam's late sack lifts Tigers in Cotton Bowl


In a game in which the lead changed hands on six consecutive fourth-quarter possessions, a defensive player made the biggest play in Missouri's 41-31 win over Oklahoma State in Friday night's Cotton Bowl.

Mizzou senior defensive end Michael Sam sacked Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf, forcing a fumble, and fellow defensive end Shane Ray scooped the ball and ran 73 yards for the clinching score. It was sack No. 11.5 for Sam, which leads the SEC and tied a single-season school record. Mizzou junior defensive end Kony Ealy, who announced afterward he was turning pro, added two sacks. Ealy is seen as a likely first-rounder, and Sam -- who probably will be an outside linebacker at the next level -- seems to be a probable second- or third-rounder.

Junior tailback Henry Josey was Mizzou's offensive star, rushing for 92 yards and three TDs on 12 carries. His 16-yard touchdown run with 3:08 left gave the Tigers a 34-31 lead.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin was just 15 of 40 for 174 yards and an interception, and he also fumbled twice. But he occasionally threw some nice passes, and four Missouri receivers had at least three receptions each. Mizzou's lone TD pass came from backup Maty Mauk, who threw a picture-perfect 24-yarder to Marcus Lucas early in the second quarter.

Missouri led 17-14 entering the wild fourth quarter, in which Mizzou scored three TDs and kicked a field goal and Oklahoma State scored two TDs and kicked a field goal.

Oklahoma State's Chelf threw for 381 yards and two TDs, but he also threw two interceptions and took three sacks. The Cowboys struggled to run consistently, thanks to solid play from Missouri linebacker Andrew Wilson, who had 15 tackles.

Missouri (12-2) matched its school record for wins in a season. Oklahoma State (10-3) was trying to win 11 games for the third time in four seasons.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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