MO State HS Sports

Mizzou Morning Matters

092223_Mizzou Morning Matters

COLUMBIA, Mo. — We’ve had nearly a week to digest the Cotton Bowl matchup: Mizzou vs. Ohio State on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium. In the spirit of Mizzou’s No. 5, here are five thoughts on the matchup …

1. The Mookie Bowl: Tigers receiver Mookie Cooper — yes, that No. 5 — is having the best season of his career, catching 34 passes for 429 yards as Brady Cook‘s No. 3 target. One thing he hasn’t done this year is visit the end zone. Mookie’s only college TD reception came in 2021 against South Carolina. Here’s the perfect opponent to break that two-year skid: Cooper signed with Ohio State out of high school in St. Louis but took a redshirt with the Buckeyes as a freshman in 2020 — on a team that featured four future first-round NFL draft picks at wide receiver.

2. It just means more for … ?: We’re not here to talk about the Buckeyes’ opt-outs or motivations for the Cotton Bowl — this is OSU’s 12th appearance in a CFP or New Year’s Six bowl since the 2014 postseason, when the current structure first launched — but there’s no doubt about Mizzou’s motivation. The Tigers have backed up their “Something to Prove” mantra all season. That hasn’t let up.

“When you choose to come to Missouri, when those guys came, (a New Year’s Six bowl) is not something that had been done in a while,” newly named SEC coach of the year Eli Drinkwitz said. “It’s an opportunity to leave their mark on this university, on the brotherhood and as a group of men together. So I think it means a lot to them to continue to entrench their legacy. …  We haven’t achieved what we’ve all wanted to achieve in the previous two years in our bowl games. They were great experiences, but they weren’t New Year’s Six. These guys want to go experience that and they want to play at a high level.”

23 FB Drinkwitz Headset

3. How high can Mizzou climb? The Tigers will enter bowl season at No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings, along with the AP and coaches’ polls. The latter two polls will release final rankings at the conclusion of the postseason. Should Mizzou beat Ohio State, five of the eight teams ranked ahead of the Tigers will lose a game in the postseason: The Buckeyes, either Georgia or Florida State in the Orange Bowl and three of the four teams in the CFP.  Can Mizzou climb into the top five by season’s end? Eight Mizzou teams have finished in the top 10 of the season’s final AP poll, including three in the top five: No. 4 in 2007 and No. 5 in 1960 and 2013.

4. Stars galore: Depending on opt-outs and injuries, the Cotton Bowl has the chance to showcase elite matchups in the passing game. Mizzou and Ohio State feature two of the game’s elite wide receivers — MU’s Luther Burden III (83 receptions-1,197 yards-eight touchdowns) and OSU’s Marvin Harrison Jr. (67-1,211-14) — and some of the nation’s most productive cornerbacks — MU’s Kris Abrams-Draine (four interceptions, 12 breakups) and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (four breakups) and OSU’s Denzel Burke (nine breakups) and Jordan Hancock (two interceptions, two forced fumbles). That’s a lot of star power on the perimeter. 

5. Mizzou is overdue vs. Ohio State. The Tigers head into the game with just one win in 12 all-time meetings with Ohio State. From 1939-49, Mizzou played nine games against the Buckeyes — with every game in Columbus, Ohio — and lost every meeting except a 13-13 tie in 1946. Why so many road games? We’ll touch on this more in the coming weeks, but the construction of both Memorial Stadium and Brewer Fieldhouse put the Missouri athletics department in a deep financial hole. Don Faurot, both head football coach and athletics director at the time, helped balance the numbers by agreeing to play a decade’s worth of games against the Buckeyes — all on the road. Yes, it’s fair to say The Ohio State University financed the current home of Mizzou Football.  

The first game in the series, in 1939, there were more than 58,000 fans on hand at Ohio Stadium — at the time, the largest crowd to witness a Missouri football game. After the 1941 game, Ohio State AD L.W. St. John later apologized to Faurot when he discovered one of Coach Paul Brown’s assistants had spent time on MU’s campus spying on the Tigers’ practice — which at the time were open to MU students — the Buckeyes were unfazed by Faurot’s newly installed Split T formation and beat the Tigers 12-7 in the season opener. Any chance the assistant coach’s last name Stallions?


Former Mizzou men’s basketball star and current Los Angeles Clipper rookie Kobe Brown earned Today’s Top 10 honors by the NCAA Honors Committee, one of 10 recent student-athletes recognized for “outstanding achievements as athletes, students and contributors to their campuses and communities.” For an honor that’s been awarded for 50 years, Brown is the first Mizzou student-athlete to ever receive the recognition. A first-team All-SEC selection and Academic All-American last season, Brown was also named the SEC’s scholar athlete of the year at the conclusion of his senior season. At Mizzou, Brown was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was active with several community service organizations. The Top 10 will be honored Jan. 10 at the NCAA Convention Welcome and Awards Presentation in Phoenix.


Dennis Gates‘ guides Mizzou men’s basketball into the state to the west on Saturday for the latest chapter of the Border War. And, yes, 23 years later, we still can’t believe they called this a charge. (I was at the game and will never forget Keyon Dooling – and it’s still one of the most incredible plays I’ve seen in person.)


Find answers at the end of today’s newsletter.

1. What is the highest-scoring game by a Mizzou men’s basketball player against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse?

2. The last Mizzou touchdown scored against Ohio State came on defense. Who scored and how?


While Gates takes his Tigers into Saturday’s rivalry game against the team in Lawrence, Robin Pingeton’s women’s basketball team plays its first nationally ranked opponent Saturday, taking a three-game winning streak over No. 13 Kansas State into Saturday’s Bill Snyder Classic in St. Joseph. It’s the 10th time these two longtime Big Eight and Big 12 rivals will meet on a neutral court and the first neutral-site matchup since the 2004 Big 12 Tournament in Dallas. 

Lately, the Tigers are getting a big lift from sophomore Ashton Judd, who in Wednesday’s win over SEMO came through with 20 points and 10 boards, boosting her season averages to 16.2 and 6.3, respectively.

“She’s been a grinder. I can count on one maybe two hands the amount of days since the spring that she wasn’t in the gym twice a day every day,” Pingeton said. “Flat out when you want something you gotta go work for it. Easy is never gonna get you there. And she’s done exactly that. She’s invested a lot in her craft. She’s really been intentional about her diet, about her recovery. She’s a fierce competitor. We’ve just got to make sure she stays out of her own way at times because she’s got this perfectionist trait that a lot of girls on our team do. But we really try to emphasize progress over perfection. The short short answer is her work. She’s put in a lot of work in the offseason.”

As for Gates, Saturday’s rematch isn’t about dwelling on last year’s meeting in Columbia. 

“I have amnesia,” he joked this week. “Last’s year game was last year. … I truly believe our guys responded from that game in a positive way. And it became a lesson for us. So ultimately the big picture, we’re looking at this as a completely different game, completely different environment. We have several guys that are a year older (going) into this game, knowing what’s going on with it, the history of it, the dynamics, but also, we have guys that are college basketball educated, meaning they know and they’ve heard through friends or different people, just in terms of what it’s like to play in Kansas.”


Saturday, Dec. 9

Men’s Basketball at Kansas, 4:15 p.m. ESPN (Lawrence, Kansas)

Women’s Basketball vs. Kansas State, 5 p.m., News Press Now (St. Joseph)

Sunday, Dec. 10

Gymnastics Black and Gold Meet, 1 p.m.


1. Anthony Peeler scored 43 points at Kansas on March 8, 1992.

2. Cornerback Carlos Posey returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown against the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 19, 1998.

This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics