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Ohio State opens as 6.5-point favorites vs. Missouri in the Cotton Bowl

The Buckeyes will meet the Tigers in Dallas on Dec. 29

Abilene Christian v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

With Ohio State failing to make the College Football Playoff following a loss to Michigan in the regular season finale, the Buckeyes now know who and where they will be playing their final contest of the 2023 campaign.

The CFP Committee didn’t exactly get things right, as 13-0 ACC Champion Florida State was left out of the final field of four in favor of a 12-1 Alabama team that needed to convert a 4th-and-31 against Auburn to stay alive and won what was the worst version of the SEC in several years by knocking off Georgia in conference title game. Regardless, No. 1 seed Michigan will take on the No. 4 seed Crimson Tide, while No. 2 Washington will face off against No. 3 Texas.

Outside of the College Football Playoff, No. 7 Ohio State will be partaking in the Cotton Bowl, where they will meet No. 9 Missouri in Arlington, Texas. It will be interesting to see what version of the Buckeyes shows up on Dec. 29, as many of their top players — including wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. — are likely to opt out to prepare for the NFL Draft. Still, Ryan Day’s squad will enter the game as nearly a touchdown favorite.

All lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Spread: Ohio State -6.5

Ohio State finished the regular season 11-1, losing 30-24 in the finale against Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes were led offensively this season by the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver in Harrison Jr., who racked up over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air. On the ground, TreVeyon Henderson led the way with 854 yards and 11 touchdowns in his nine games played, averaging an impressive 6.2 yards per carry. Ohio State ranks second nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 11 points per game. The 30 points allowed in the loss to the Wolverines was the only time all year the Buckeyes let up more than 17 points in a game. Ohio State did not do much in terms of creating havoc plays, tallying only seven picks and 22 sacks as a team, but did a great job of keeping teams out of the end zone.

Missouri finished the regular season at 10-2, losing a 49-39 contest to LSU and battling with Georgia in a 30-21 loss. Senior quarterback Brady Cook put up strong numbers to the tune of nearly 3,200 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions, and was aided by star receiver Luther Burden. Just a sophomore, Burden totaled 83 receptions for just under 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns. Cody Schrader was strong on the ground as well, compiling 1,500 yards and 13 TDs on 6.1 yards per attempt. The Tigers were middle of the road on defense, allowing 22.3 points per game, but defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine had a tremendous season with four picks and 12 PBUs, while defensive lineman Darius Robinson led the way in the sack department with 7.5.

As touched on earlier, what happens in this game could largely be determined by just how many opt-outs there are on the Ohio State side. While the Tigers don't have to worry about Burden leaving early, as he is not yet draft eligible, the Buckeyes could potentially be without three of their top offensive weapons if Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and TreVeyon Henderson all decide to opt out. Defensively, there is a good chance OSU is also without top corner Denzel Burke, in addition to defensive linemen J.T. Tuimoloau, Tyliek Williams, Jack Sawyer and Mike Hall as well as DBs Jordan Hancock and Lathan Ransom — all of whom have big decisions to make.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.