Two of the four finalists in the Heisman Trophy race go toe-to-toe in Dallas, but that's only one reason this game is among the most intriguing of the 2007 bowl season. Other questions to be answered are, "How will Arkansas do without a permanent head coach?" and "How will Missouri respond after feeling slighted by the BCS?".
Arkansas RB Darren McFadden will almost certainly be playing in his last collegiate game as the NFL will beckon him with huge bundles of financial security. Some say the two-time Heisman bridesmaid could be the best running back to come out of college since LaDainian Tomlinson, or even Barry Sanders.
McFadden's consistency has been something to marvel. This year, D-Mac rushed 304 times for 1,725 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and tallying 15 TD's. He also threw 4 TD passes on just 11 attempts. Last season, McFadden had 1,647 yards and 14 TD's. And in 2005, he had 1,113 yards and 11 TD's as a freshman. He is an all-around athlete that can run, pass and catch. In a completely fair world, he would have won the Heisman this season as a worthy farewell present, and given Florida's Tim Tebow another shot at picking it up next year.
The interesting thing about Arkansas is that it's not the all-McFadden team. Opposing teams can key on him all day long, and that leaves Felix Jones to contend with. On most teams, Felix would not only be the featured offensive threat, but he would probably be a legitimate Heisman contender in his own right.
Jones is 5th in the SEC in rushing this season with 1,117 yards and 11 TD's. He also led the SEC, and was 3rd nationally, in kick-off returns with 564 yards and 2 TD's.
Meanwhile, Missouri rode the magic of Chase Daniel to the Big 12 title game where it discovered that its over-all talent is still short of Oklahoma's, but it is catching up.
Daniel only trailed Texas Tech's Graham Harrell in the Big 12 passing stats, throwing for 4,170 yards with 33 TD's and 10 INT's. He ranked 12th nationally in passing efficiency and guided the Tiger offense to a No. 5 national ranking.
Jeremy Maclin ranks 2nd nationally in All-Purpose yardage with 1,023 receiving and 1,039 in kick returns. Maclin also added 349 yards rushing.
Defense isn't a strong suit for either team as Arkansas ranks 45th and Missouri checks in at 59th. The Razorbacks are 36th in pass defense, while the Tigers are 26th in rushing defense.
The SEC representative has won the last four Cotton Bowls, but Arkansas has only won two if its last thirteen bowl games. Missouri lost its first seven bowl games, but is 10-7 in these holiday classics since 1960.