Dec. 28, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas - The No. 8 Missouri Tigers shook off the rust of the holidays with a spirited 90-minute practice in the team's first workout at AT&T Stadium for the 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
Mizzou (11-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) worked on all three phases in short and shoulder pads as the team continued to narrow its focus towards its post-New Year's date with the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 7-2 Big 12 Conference). Head coach Gary Pinkel said the Tigers' attention to detail will need to be sharp as his squad gets ready for a primetime showdown in front of a capacity crowd.
"It's a big stage here," said Pinkel. "Obviously AT&T Stadium is certainly a big exclamation mark about how awesome this place really is. The bowl is as first class as any I have been associated with and I've been to many, many bowls over the years. They do a great job."
In order for Mizzou to continue to do the great job it has all season and cap its year with its second-straight bowl victory, Pinkel said his Tigers need to continue to rely on the availability of the lion's share of its roster to stifle an opportunistic team in Oklahoma State.
"We stayed very, very healthy, which helped us," said Pinkel. "We were a lot better football team in October than in the beginning of September and, in November, we were a lot better team.
"To become a better team, you have to be healthy. If you go out there and you're limping around just to make it through practice and just make it to the next game, it's very difficult to improve on offense and defense. Fortunately, this year we've been very healthy and we've gotten better as team as the season went on."
Following practice, the team enjoyed the afternoon off and then traveled back to AT&T Stadium in the evening for the Classic's official welcome dinner and party, courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys.
Mizzou will step away from the practice field on Sunday and resume its bowl preparation on Monday morning with a scheduled 90-minute practice prior to its official Media Day session with Pinkel and selected players.
The 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic is Friday, Jan. 3 on FOX. Airtime is set for 6:30 p.m. CST with kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Making their fourth appearances as members of FOX's broadcast crew, Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will describe all the action and will be joined by Kristina Pink reporting from the sideline. FOX is broadcasting the Classic for the 16th consecutive year.