Outside of the national title game itself, the AT&T Cotton Bowl free pick is probably the hardest to make because of the two teams involved. Oklahoma State and Missouri both picked up losses the last time they were on the gridiron, and their conference title hopes sailed away on the wind. Now two of the best, and most balanced, teams in the country get to square off in the unofficially named “Losers Bowl”.
Missouri’s chances of creating a maelstrom at the top of the BCS standings ended when they were defeated by Auburn in a completely wild SEC Championship contest. Even with that loss, the Tigers were an absolute gold mine to the betting community with a marvelous 10-2-1 ATS record.
They’re an excessively well balanced team that honed their craft in the gauntlet that is the SEC. Missouri hammered Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia and almost everyone else until they ran in to Auburn, whom they lost to 42-59 as -2.0 point favorites. Now they’re facing an Oklahoma State team that has played well above their ceiling and could give Missouri some serious headaches.
That hasn’t stopped the community from backing the Tigers in this one. Nearly two-thirds of the action is caving in on Missouri’s side of the line. Part of Oklahoma State’s spread record is built on the idea that they achieved far ahead of their potential. They were favored by just -6.0 against TCU and were -2.0 favorites against Texas Tech, while sliding in as +7.5 underdogs against Baylor.
At no time did the oddsmakers or handicappers believe that Oklahoma State was as legitimate as their betting record ever indicated, which is why it’s hard to leverage a Cotton Bowl free pick on their side of the line. Their 8-4 ATS record is strong, but not as incredible as it looks at first glance.
When in doubt, you usually pick the SEC over everyone else. I’ve strayed away from that thinking in a few of my post season free picks. I’m taking Nebraska over Georgia, Iowa over LSU and Oklahoma over Alabama. But in this game, Missouri is clearly a much better team that is being handed a favor with the oddsmakers lazily making this game a pick ‘em. This is one of those types of matchups that you can over think until the cows come home, but I think this game is fairly academic. Missouri is simply a better team than Oklahoma State which is why they’re getting my vote of confidence in this AT&T Cotton Bowl free pick.