Sloppy play and critical turnovers ruled the fourth quarter.
Wide receiver Will Franklin caught two key third-and-long passes from quarterback Chase Daniel, enabling Missouri to start the fourth quarter at Arkansas’ 38-yard line. On the second play of the quarter Daniel threw an interception to linebacker Adrian Davis, but Daniel made up for his error by forcing Davis to fumble. The Tigers then recovered at their own 48.
Another Missouri mistake would soon follow. Reserve running back Derrick Washington fumbled at Arkansas’ 26, and the Razorbacks recovered the ball.
Once again, the Razorbacks would give it right back. This time linebacker Luke Lambert forced the fumble, and cornerback Darnell Terrell recovered it at their own 40. On the next play, Daniel found receiver a wide-open Will Franklin for what would have been a 30-yard gain, but Franklin dropped the pass. The Tigers had to punt two plays later, but the Razorbacks’ punt returner muffed the ball at the 11-yard line, and reserve linebacker Connell Davis recovered it for the Tigers.
The Tigers couldn’t do anything on offense, though, and had to settle with a 32-yard field goal by kicker Jeff Wolfert. The field goal extended the Tigers’ lead to 31-7 with 10:25 left in the game.
Arkansas’ offense again sputtered on its next drive. On third-and-five, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon sacked Razorbacks’ quarterback Casey Dick for a loss of nine, and Arkansas had to punt.
On the Tigers’ first play of the drive, running back Tony Temple capped a career day by juking and spinning his way 40 yards into the end zone. On the touchdown run, Temple became the all-time Cotton Bowl rusher with 281 yards. His fourth rushing touchdown is also a Cotton Bowl record. The Tigers led 38-7.
Third quarter: Missouri 28, Arkansas 7
Arkansas tried to catch Missouri sleeping on the opening kickoff of the second half with an onside kick, but reserve MU linebacker Connell Davis recovered the ball at midfield.
The Tigers’ offense then went to work. Quarterback Chase Daniel hit receiver Jeremy Maclin on a screen pass for 15 yards, and on the next play running back Tony Temple raced outside for 19 yards to the Arkansas 13. On third-and-1 from the Arkansas 4, Temple scored his third touchdown of the game, tying a Cotton Bowl record and extending Missouri’s lead to 21-0 with 13:38 left in the third quarter.
Arkansas and Missouri exchanged punts on their ensuing possessions. On Arkansas’ next possession, running back Felix Jones burst a 41-yard run on third-and-15, but MU safety William Moore stripped the ball from Jones, and Missouri recovered it at its own 38.
Missouri quickly drove down the field, but Temple fumbled after gaining eight yards and the Razorbacks recovered at their own 20.
With Arkansas facing a second-and-15 deep on its side of the field, Moore picked off quarterback Casey Dick’s pass along the sideline and ran 26 yards for a touchdown. It was Moore’s eighth interception of the season, breaking the Missouri single-season record and widening MU’s lead to 28-0 with 7:37 in the third.
Arkansas finally cracked the scoreboard on its next drive. McFadden rushed for 18 yards for a first down to MU’s 40. A personal foul by MU linebacker Sean Weatherspoon a play later brought the ball to MU’s 20, and McFadden followed that with a 10-yard rush to the Tigers’ 10. The Tigers stop McFadden on third-and-goal from the 2, but he broke through the Tigers’ defense on fourth down and scored Arkansas’ first touchdown. The score was 28-7 with 3:08 left in the third quarter.
Halftime: Missouri 14, Arkansas 0
With the Tigers in Arkansas territory, running back Tony Temple lost 11 yards on second down, moving the Tigers back to the Arkansas 45. On third-and-21, quarterback Chase Daniel scrambled and threw an incomplete pass. The Tigers punted on fourth down and pinned the Arkansas offense back at its own 3.
Arkansas got out of its own end zone, however, after running back Darren McFadden ran for 19 yards to the MU 26. A few plays later the first signs of Arkansas' Wild Hog formation, where McFadden lines up as quarterback in the shotgun formation, resulted in a 2-yard rush by full back Peyton Hillis. On third-and-13 from their own 40, McFadden dropped a pass and the Razorbacks had to punt.
The Tigers started at their next possession at their own 7 after a holding penalty on the punt return. On first down Temple broke free and ran 41 yards to the Arkansas 48. Three plays later the Tigers faced a third-and-37 after Daniel was flagged for intentional grounding. He threw an incompletion, and the Tigers punted.
Arkansas started at their own 40 but went three-and-out after defensive linemen Ziggy Hood and Lorenzo Williams sacked Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick on third-and-7.
The Tigers' next drive started on their own 18. Tony Temple continued to find holes in the Arkansas defense, busting his third 22-yard rush of the game to the Razorbacks' 42. Backup running back Jimmy Jackson also got in on the action, gaining 10 yards to the Arkansas 42. On the next play of the game, Temple sprung a 38-yard rush all the way to the Arkansas 4. Fittingly, Temple ran into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown on the next play to extend the Tigers' lead to 14-0 with 4:34 in the first half. Temple had 147 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns to this point.
McFadden caught the ensuing kickoff and bullied his way all the way for 33 yards to the Tigers' 42. On the Razorbacks' first play, running back Felix Jones broke a 23-yard run to the MU 20. The Tigers' defense fastened from there, and the Razorbacks had to attempt a 37-yard field goal. Kicker Alex Tejada missed his second field goal of the game, this time wide left. The Tigers took over at their own 20.
The Tigers converted a third-and-2 at their 27 after Daniel threw a 4-yard completion to receiver Jeremy Maclin. Daniel threw an incompletion on the Tigers' next third down, and the team had to punt.
The Razorbacks' drive began at their own 33. On third-and-16, defensive end Ziggy Hood sacked Casey Dick to end the half.
First quarter: Missouri 7, Arkansas 0
The 72nd Cotton Bowl got underway just after 10:40 a.m. The Arkansas Razorbacks won the coin toss and elected to receive. Using a mixture of runs from All-American running back Darren McFadden and his steady compliment Felix Jones, the Razorbacks drove all the way to the Tigers’ 16-yard line. However, McFadden was stopped for a loss of 2 on third down, and Razorback kicker Alex Tejada missed a 36-yard field goal wide to the ride.
On the Tigers’ second play of the game, quarterback Chase Daniel hit tight end Martin Rucker for a first down on a 10-yard pass. The catch marked Rucker’s 201st career reception, making him the all-time leader in receptions in Missouri history. The Tigers failed to get another first down on the drive, though, and had to punt.
Arkansas appeared to be stopped on a third-and-long deep in their own territory, but a roughing the passer call on safety Justin Garrett gave Arkansas a first-and-10 from their 32. The play wouldn’t hurt the Tigers. The Razorbacks punted four plays later.
Starting on their 27, the Tigers found the rhythm that made them such an explosive offense this season. Daniel hit Rucker for an 11-yard gain earlier in the drive. Then he found a streaking Will Franklin for 22 yards to get the Arkansas 34. Franklin caught the next pass on a wide receiver screen to the 22. Running back Tony Temple then scattered around the Razorbacks’ defense for a 22-yard touchdown run, making the score 7-0 Tigers with 2:29 in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Arkansas’ Felix Jones returned the ball 46 yards to the Tigers’ 41. On fourth-and-4, the Razorbacks appeared to gain a first down on a fake punt, but the referees cancelled the play, saying Arkansas called a timeout seconds before the snap. The Razorbacks ran another fake after the timeout, but the Tigers stopped them well short.
After a 22-yard run by Temple, the Tigers had the ball at the Arkansas 34 to end the quarter.