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QUICK READ: Missouri suffers gut-punch loss to Oklahoma State in Liberty Bowl

Here are the quick takeaways from a crazy, exciting and devastating 38-33 loss to the Cowboys.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl - Missouri v Oklahoma State Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Barry Odom’s coaching decisions were befuddling, to say the least.

The timeouts were confusing — Missouri burned its second timeout of the second half early in the fourth quarter — but the decisions after touchdowns were even more of a head scratcher. Trailing 35-25 after an 86-yard touchdown reception by Johnathon Johnson, Missouri lined up to go for two but then called a timeout.

And then kicked the PAT.

If Missouri had went for two and failed, it would have been a two-possession game. The PAT made it... a two-possession game. It just doesn’t make sense then, and still doesn’t know — especially when you factor in the timeout wasted.

In the end, if Missouri had gone for two 2-point attempts (and gotten both) it could have settled for a field goal at the end instead of needing a touchdown to win.

Thank you, Cam Hilton.

Hilton, one of Missouri’s starting safeties, gets at best overshadowed and at worst belittled for his play on the field, and he isn’t often mentioned in the same company as the other seniors on the team.

But, holy crap, thank you Cam Hilton.

In his final game as a Missouri Tiger, Hilton single-handedly turned the game on defense with interceptions on back-to-back drives. Prior to that, Taylor Cornelius had abused Missouri’s secondary. But Hilton answered the bell and saved the game from turning into a blowout.

A gut-punch ending for Drew Lock.

Lock had one of the best games of his career, and made big play after big play to get Missouri back in this game — all the while his receivers kept dropping (Emanuel Hall, Jalen Knox, etc.) through no fault of their own.

But on the biggest play of the night, the staff put the ball on Lock to run instead of throw — and a fourth-and-one read option was stopped just short of the marker, giving the ball back to Oklahoma State to seal the win.

Lock finished 23-of-38 for 378 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, but that wasn’t enough. An absolutely heartbreaking ending to Lock’s Missouri career, one in which the star quarterback could never quite get this team over the hump. That does not fall on him, but I guarantee you Lock — the competitor that he is — is going to be hard on himself for this one.

Larry Rountree’s performance should not be overlooked.

Missouri has one of the best running backs in the nation coming back for 2019, and his name is Larry Rountree III.

Rountree put up 204 yards on 27 carries, shouldering the entire load with no Damarea Crockett and after Tyler Badie got shaken up by a targeting hit.

Rountree is a phenomenal running back and should be the centerpiece of this offense in 2019, even with Kelly Bryant.

It’s going to be a long offseason.

I really wanted Missouri to win this game beforehand. I really wanted Missouri to pull this one out, even more, after some of the confusing decisions by Odom and his staff.

I didn’t want them to win this because I’m a Missouri fan. I wanted them to win this to avoid an offseason of questions about whether the Odom extension was a good move. I thought it was — I still think it is.

But the decisions made by him and his staff during this game, especially with clock management and special teams ultimately cost the team this game. It cost Missouri a nine-win season. Those seasons don’t come around often at Missouri and it would have been a huge accomplishment.

I’ve said there’s no wider gap than there is between an 8-5 year and a 7-6 year. But the gap between 8-5 and 9-4 is pretty dang big, too. A nine-win year would have made the “Missouri might be an SEC East contender” story line more of a sure thing.

Now this 8-5 gut punch adds one big “yeah, but” to those optimistic offseason projections.