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The first playoff New Year’s Six matchup between No. 7 Ohio State and No. 9 Missouri takes place in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Friday night. The series has been controlled by the Buckeyes 10-1-1 all-time; the previous encounter occurred in 1998. But this time, they’re up against a Missouri squad that just finished its best regular season since 2014. The Tigers, who are playing in their first-ever New Year’s Six game, ought to be very motivated.

Despite losing to rival Michigan in the regular-season finale, which prevented the Buckeyes from qualifying for the College Football Playoff, their Cotton Bowl attendance is still a remarkable accomplishment. During the four-team College Football Playoff era, Ohio State is the only program to have an appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl in each of the ten seasons.

However, Ohio State’s offense will be drastically altered since starting quarterback Kyle McCord left for Syracuse at the conclusion of the regular season. Marvin Harrison Jr., a receiver who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, has had strong attention from the NFL and will not be available. Chip Trayanum, the second-leading rusher for the Buckeyes, also entered the portal and is now on his way to Kentucky.

Even so, Ohio State has a wealth of skill coming into the game, some of it untested.

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