ARLINGTON, Texas — Henry Josey ran for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead one with 3:08 left, to help lift No. 9 Missouri to a 41-31 victory against No. 13 Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night.
On the ensuing series, Michael Sam, a consensus All-America defensive end who led the SEC with 101/2 sacks, got to Clint Chelf and stripped the ball. Defensive tackle Shane Ray picked up the fumble and returned it 73 yards for the clinching touchdown.
The SEC beat the Big 12 in the Cotton Bowl for the 10th time in the past 11 games. The only loss? Missouri over Arkansas in January 2008.
The Tigers (12-2) left for the SEC in 2012. After going 5-7 last season and being picked to finish sixth in the East this season, the second 12-win season in program history represents the second-best improvement in Division I-A (behind Auburn, to which it lost in the SEC title game).
"We're honored to be in the SEC," Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said.
Oklahoma State overcame a 10-point halftime deficit by converting two turnovers by Tigers quarterback James Franklin into points in a 3½-minute span.
The teams combined for 41 fourth-quarter points, a Cotton Bowl record. Josey's 25-yard run put the Tigers up 24-17 3:28 in. But Chelf and Desmond Roland sandwiched touchdown runs of 23 and 2 yards, respectively, around a Missouri field goal to put the Cowboys (10-3) up 31-27 with 5:04 left.
The Tigers then responded. Senior James Franklin, who was 15-of-40 for 174 yards and an interception, hit Dorial Green-Beckham for 27 yards on third and 9 to the Cowboys 16. One play later, Josey scored. The junior finished with 82 yards on 12 carries.
Pinkel won his 102nd game, setting a school record. He surpassed Don Faurot, for whom Missouri's field is named.
"I just love my players," Pinkel said. "What a way to finish the season."
Chelf was 33-of-57 for 377 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Gators lose another cornerback to draft
Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson announced he will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. He joins corner Loucheiz Purifoy, who declared in December. Roberson played in seven games this season, starting four, with 11 solo tackles and three pass breakups. In 2012, he was All-SEC second-team.
More draft: South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington, Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton and Cal linebacker Khairi Fortt declared. Ellington had team highs of 49 catches 775 yards and eight touchdowns. Crichton had 7½ sacks. Fortt had 64 tackles.
Ga. Tech: Starting quarterback Vad Lee will transfer. As a redshirt sophomore this season, he threw for 1,561 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.