Missouri QB Brady Cook Expects ‘Great Test’ From Ohio State in Cotton Bowl 

Ten years ago, a younger Brady Cook sat with his family and watched Missouri win 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma State. 

Fast forward to today, and Cook is the one who finds himself quarterbacking the No. 9 Tigers in their latest Cotton Bowl and first New Year’s Six appearance against No. 7 Ohio State. 

“It was crazy,” Cook said. “My mom pulled up the pictures from the Cotton Bowl party 10 years ago. Just thinking about it, we were all in my basement watching Mizzou in the Cotton Bowl. None of us would have thought I would be the starting quarterback in the Cotton Bowl a decade later so a super full-circle moment and super cool.” 

Cook arrived at Missouri as a three-star recruit part of the class of 2020. He learned from former Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak during the 2020-21 seasons before earning the starting role in 2022. 

Cook has been part of a Missouri program that has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows. He and the Tigers went 5-5 in his first season before enduring back-to-back 6-7 campaigns that featured two losses in bowl games. 

Now, after leading Missouri to a 10-2 record, Cook has his sights set claiming one more win over the Buckeyes. 

“I think it would cap off a really, really good year for the Tigers,” Cook said. “Put a cap on this thing and send the seniors and the guys who are playing in their last game and send them off the right way. And not only that, it would be a springboard moving into next year. For the people that are coming back for one more, winning the Cotton Bowl over Ohio State would definitely give us some good energy.” 

Cook said he and the Tigers have “been through it all” over the course of his career at Missouri. 

He noted the team’s losses 49-39 to LSU and 30-21 at Georgia this season as key moments for the Tigers to respond to adversity, and they rebounded each time. 

“We felt like we were at the bottom and it couldn’t get any worse (last season),” Cook said. “Right after a loss like those, there’s going to be a lot of emotions. It’s going to be emotional in the building the next day, but the difference between this year and last year is that we bounced back so quickly. We took the emotion out of it, watched the tape, knew what we needed to do. We bounced back both weeks with wins the following (week), so I think that’s the difference in just the ability of the leaders of this team, the coaches, the players to bounce back, brush it off.” 

Missouri’s ability to focus on the task at hand has been what’s helped the program achieve its first 10-win season since 2014, Cook said. It’s led to an increase in confidence across the board, and the team has thrived in big moments. 

Tigers offensive coordinator Kirby Moore, who signed an extension around National Signing Day last week, said he’s noticed Cook’s own belief in himself grow over the past two seasons, particularly when Cook had a procedure on his throwing shoulder after last season. 

When the Tigers faced a 24-17 second-half deficit to Kansas State in Week 3, Cook threw a 26-yard touchdown to Luther Burden III to pull Missouri ahead, and it’s been moments like those that’s powered the program to new heights, Moore said. 

“That third game against Kansas State, his confidence really grew,” Moore said. “There are some things that we did offensively that I think he felt comfortable with and it still comes back to execution, and that carried over throughout the rest of the season.” 

When it comes to scouting Ohio State, Cook said the Buckeyes’ front seven is “probably their strong suit.” 

Cook said Ohio State doesn’t have many missed assignments on defense, and he said the Buckeyes defense does remind him some of the ones he’s played against in the Southeastern Conference. He said the Tigers will “need to take our opportunities when we can” as they go up against “a really good defense.” 

“No one specific comes to mind. They run a lot of coverages and different packages that we’ve seen this year, no doubt,” Cook said. “They have a three-high structure that I could relate it to K-State a little bit. Their man looks, you could relate them to Georgia a little bit. I see different one-high zone looks that kind of relate to Tennessee so kind of piecing them all together throughout this month and bowl season and five different looks that you’ve seen before, go back watch them. It’s really come together.” 

Ohio State isn’t expecting many players to miss or opt out of the Cotton Bowl on the defensive side of the ball according to defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. 

That’s a challenge that Cook is excited about. He wants to see Ohio State at full strength and get the Buckeyes’ best shot, and that will be on display Friday night. 

“I’m happy about it. I think it provides a good test for our offense,” Cook said. “We know what we’re going to get. There’s no questions about personnel-wise who we’re going to see in the secondary, front seven, etcetera, so I think it’s going to be a great test for us and I think we’ll be prepared for them.” 

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