Cotton Bowl Pregame Picks: Staff Score Predictions, Picks Against the Spread and Eleven Warriors Prop Bets

By 11W Staff on December 29, 2023 at 5:00 pm
TreVeyon Henderson

After one month without competition, Ohio State football returns to action for a top-10 showdown with Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.

The 2023 Buckeyes will look a little different at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as Kyle McCord, Chip Trayanum, Julian Fleming and 11 other players entered the portal in December. Ohio State could also be down Biletnikoff Award winner and Heisman finalist Marvin Harrison Jr., who did not practice with the Buckeyes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But have no fear, Buckeye Nation. Devin Brown, TreVeyon Henderson, Cade Stover, Emeka Egbuka and Xavier Johnson are here, as are each of Ohio State’s starters on defense — a unit that ranked among the best in college football in total and scoring defense in the regular season.

Those Buckeyes are juiced for the Cotton Bowl.

Can Ohio State close the season with a win? Will the Buckeyes cover the spread? Will Ohio State and Missouri combine for more than 48 points?

Our staff has all the answers.


Andy Anders - Ohio State 31, Missouri 24: “While Ohio State’s offense takes time to get into gear with a new quarterback, the defense comes out motivated and contains the likes of Luther Burden and Cody Schrader, though they do make some plays for Missouri in a nip-and-tuck game.”

Chase Brown - Ohio State 27, Missouri 24: “Missouri is a talented team and had a tremendous regular season behind the efforts of quarterback Brady Cook, running back Cody Schrader and wide receiver Luther Burden III. I expect the Tigers will be at their best against the Buckeyes. But Missouri’s best won’t be enough to match Ohio State, who I believe will have a new-found energy with Devin Brown under center and will still be able to rely on their top-three defense in the Cotton Bowl.”

“I expect the Tigers will be at their best against the Buckeyes. But Missouri’s best won’t be enough to match Ohio State.”– Chase Brown

George Eisner - Ohio State 27, Missouri 21: “As was the case with the Rose Bowl a couple of seasons ago, I expect the Buckeyes’ unfathomable depth at receiver to make the difference down the stretch. However, don’t expect 573 passing yards from Devin Brown.”

Jack Emerson - Ohio State 28, Missouri 24: “I’m expecting an admirable performance from Devin Brown in his first-career start, while the Buckeye defense does just enough to quell the dynamic duo of Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook and Luther Burden III en route to an Ohio State win.”

Kyle Jones - Ohio State 24, Missouri 21: “Missouri’s dynamic offense gives the Ohio State defense some early trouble, though Jim Knowles and Co. seem to have answers in the second half, which allows TreVeyon Henderson to lead a comeback victory.”

Johnny Ginter - Ohio State 30, Missouri 20: "Purely vibes on this one. Missouri is better offensively than most people realize, but Ohio State seems motivated to wash the bad taste of the Michigan game out of their mouths.”

Matt Gutridge - Ohio State 27, Missouri 17: “I would not be surprised if this game turned into a shootout, but the 2023 Buckeyes have beaten opponents with its suffocating defense. Let’s finish this season, retool the offense and let the quarterback competition begin.”

Garrick Hodge - Ohio State 27, Missouri 24: “Devin Brown leaves a favorable impression as the Buckeyes win a thriller in Dallas to help soften some of the sting of another unfortunate end to the regular season.”

Dan Hope - Ohio State 27, Missouri 24: “I made the mistake of picking Utah to beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl two years ago because I thought the opponent would be more motivated, so I don’t want to make that mistake again. Motivation question aside, this isn’t going to be an easy game for the Buckeyes; Missouri’s offense might be the best Ohio State has faced all season, and I expect some clunkiness from an Ohio State offense breaking in a new starting quarterback who won’t have Marvin Harrison Jr. to throw to. But I think a hungry Ohio State defense and Devin Brown both make enough plays for the Buckeyes to end the season with a win.”

“I think A hungry Ohio State defense and Devin Brown both make enough plays for the Buckeyes to finish the season with a win.”– Dan Hope

Chris Lauderback - Ohio State 27, Missouri 21: “The secondary keeps Luther Burden III in check, and Carnell Tate goes for 100 receiving yards and a touchdown.”

Ramzy Nasrallah - Ohio State 35, Missouri 24: “As sexy as the motivation/momentum subplot might be, Missouri is three-star heaven. The wildcards in the Tigers’ favor are Ohio State’s intergalactically terrible special teams and how puckery Ryan Day gets with the play calling. I don’t care who opts out for the Buckeyes - every guy on the field will have something to prove.”

Josh Poloha - Ohio State 27, Missouri 24: “The Buckeyes have never lost in the state of Texas, and that streak will continue Friday night.”

Jason Priestas - Ohio State 27, Missouri 21: “Even without Marvin Harrison, Ohio State has just enough talent to knock off one of the best teams in the SEC (and set the tone for the return of several key players and a big season in 2024).”


When the staff submitted their score predictions on Wednesday, the line for Ohio State-Missouri was still -1.5 in favor of the Buckeyes. That line has since moved to favor the Buckeyes even more, hovering around -3.5 or -4.5, depending on the sportsbook.

Therefore, answering the question, “Will Ohio State cover?” is complicated at the moment.

But, then again, not really.

When the staff submitted score predictions, all 13 had the Buckeyes winning by more than two points, which would have covered the -1.5-point spread at the time. Now that the line has moved to 3.5 points, eight of the 13 staff members have Ohio State defeating Missouri by four points or more.


While the spread has shifted over the past 48 hours, the over/under for the top-10 showdown has remained the same: 48.5.

Eight members of the Eleven Warriors staff have Ohio State and Missouri combining for 49 or more points on Friday. Those who don’t were close to that number, including Jason Priestas, Chris Lauderback and George Eisner’s 48, Kyle Jones' 45 and Matt Gutridge's 44. That said, expect the Buckeyes and Tigers to score some points in Arlington, but not too many points.


Running out of ways to kill time before kickoff? Need more numbers to fawn over ahead of the Cotton Bowl? Check out some in-house betting lines below to get a better sense of what performances oddsmakers expect from Ohio State and Missouri's stars.

Leave your predictions for us in the comments and compete for bragging rights!

How many passing yards will Devin Brown throw for? 

  • Over 219.5 (-114)
  • Under 219.5 (-114)

How many rushing yards will TreVeyon Henderson finish with?

  • Over 99.5 (-114)
  • Under 99.5 (-120)

How many passing yards will Brady Cook finish with? 

  • Over 209.5 (-114)
  • Under 209.5 (-114)

How many rushing yards will Cody Schrader finish with?

  • Over 106.5 (-120)
  • Under 106.5 (-114)

Will the Ohio State Defense score a touchdown?

  • Yes (+640)
  • No (-600)
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