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Dr. Saturday

Missouri’s late-game defensive heroics seal its Cotton Bowl victory

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Michael Sam couldn’t have asked for a better end to his Missouri career.

With 3 minutes remaining in the Cotton Bowl, Sam sacked Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to secure a 41-31 win.

Sam’s forced fumble halted a potentially game-tying drive and gave the Tigers their first 12-win season since 2007.

It was an unexpected ending for Chelf, who had been pretty steady throughout the game, including leading the Cowboys back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to take the lead with 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Chelf completed 33-of-57 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns He also ran for 52 yards and a score.

But with the game on the line, Sam came from Chelf’s backside and slapped the ball out of his hands. Shane Ray scooped the ball up and returned it 73 yards for the score.

Prior to that play, the teams had been trading punches throughout the entire second half.

The win puts a positive exclamation point on a Missouri season that had national championship potential that was extinguished by an overtime loss by South Carolina and a loss in the SEC title game to eventual national championship contender Auburn.

Oklahoma State finishes with 10 wins for three consecutive seasons, but this was a disappointing finish for a team that had aspirations of a Big 12 championship before losing to Oklahoma in the regular season finale.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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