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Mizzou Morning Matters

092223_Mizzou Morning Matters

COLUMBIA, Mo. — We’re not done with 2023, but it’s not too early to start thinking about 2024, right? The Southeastern Conference made sure it was OK for two hours on Wednesday when next year’s entire conference football schedule was released on live TV — complete with your SEC Coach of the Year making an appearance on the SEC Network broadcast.

We’ve known the 2024 opponents for months, but now we can attach dates to games and you can start booking your hotel rooms — or what’s left of them.

So, knowing that the Tigers have a VERY IMPORTANT game in exactly two weeks against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl, we’re going to take a quick peek ahead with some thoughts on the 2024 slate. Because it just means more, right?

Aug. 31 vs. Murray State: Some SEC teams push their FCS opponent to the back of the season. Mizzou chases the Racers in Week 1. In 2013, the Tigers also opened at home against Murray State. That was a good season, right?

Sept. 7 vs. Buffalo: When the Bulls of Buffalo come marching through the Midwest, it’ll be a reunion for Buffalo AD Mark Alnutt, a former Mizzou player and longtime Tigers administrator. Buffalo plays at least one Power Five opponent every year, last beating one in 2018 (Rutgers).

Sept. 14 vs. Boston College: It’s a rematch of the 2021 overtime showdown in Chestnut Hill and the Eagles’ first-ever visit to Columbia. Mizzou has hosted only eight games against current ACC teams in program history. Trivia time?

Sept. 21 vs. Vanderbilt: The Tigers open SEC play against the Commodores, one of just two games against a current SEC East team in the new division-less format. Coach Eli Drinkwitz is 4-0 against the Commodores. What will Clark Lea’s roster look like after a transfer portal reconstruction?

Sept. 28, Bye Week No. 1. When there’s an extra week between Labor Day Weekend and Thanksgiving, the college football season shifts to 14 weeks and opens two byes for every team. The Tigers last had multiple byes in 2019, but also had two in 2008 (11-win season), 2013 (12-win season) and 2014 (11-win season.) Just saying.

Oct. 5 at Texas A&M: The Tigers don’t go on the road until the sixth week of the college football season, but when they do, it’s at a place where they haven’t played since 2014. Mizzou has won three of its last four games in College Station, in 2010, 2011 and 2014. The Aggies will be under new leadership in 2024 with the arrival of head coach Mike Elko. Interesting chess match here: Elko and Coach Drinkwitz coached against each other four times over a five-year span during Elko’s coordinator stops at Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. While Mizzou enters the game off an open week, the Aggies are playing their sixth consecutive game, following matchups with Notre Dame, Florida and Arkansas.

Oct. 12 at UMass: Three years after venturing to Boston College, the Tigers return to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to play the Minutemen in Amherst in a game scheduled under Mizzou’s previous regime. UMass, an FBS independent program, plays three SEC programs next fall, traveling to Mississippi State and Georgia.

Oct. 19 vs. Auburn: It’s Homecoming at the place that invented it — and it’s a compelling game against Auburn, led by second-year coach Hugh Freeze. (Freeze was 0-1 vs. Missouri while the head coach at Ole Miss.) It’s just the second ever visit from Auburn to Mizzou and fifth meeting overall. Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State are the SEC teams Mizzou has played the fewest times — just four meetings against each heading into 2024. Auburn will be coming off a bye after three straight SEC contests against Arkansas, Oklahoma and Georgia.

Oct. 26 at Alabama: Alabama has won five straight in the series. This will mark just Mizzou’s second game ever in Tuscaloosa. But … Coach Drinkwitz is undefeated in Tuscaloosa: He was on the Auburn staff that beat the Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010. The Tigers catch the Tide a week after they play their rivalry game at Tennessee.

Nov. 2 Bye Week No. 2. Ideal time for the second bye week before a challenging four-game stretch to finish the regular season.

Nov. 9 vs. Oklahoma. Here we go. It’s Mizzou’s first matchup against the SEC rookies from Norman since 2011 and the first in Columbia since the memorable 2010 Homecoming victory. Also known as the Gahn McGaffie Game. The Tigers will be coming off a bye while OU is coming off four straight games.

Nov. 16 at South Carolina. Coach Drinkwitz has never lost to the two SEC East teams on the 2024 schedule: Vandy and South Carolina. Mizzou has won two in a row at Williams-Brice Stadium—and Coach Drinkwitz is 3-0 all-time there as a head coach.

Nov. 23 at Mississippi State. It’s just Mizzou’s second visit to Starkville all-time. The only other visit was the 2020 regular-season finale. This will be new coach Jeff Lebby’s debut season as a head coach — and a week before he coaches in his first Egg Bowl as the head Bulldog.

Nov. 30 vs. Arkansas. Mizzou’s next home loss to Arkansas will be its first. The Tigers have been playing Arkansas in the regular-season finale every year since 2014 — and gone 5-0 in those games in Columbia.

Mama Mia

I’m afraid we’re not talking enough about Mizzou women’s basketball point guard Mama Dembele and some of the eye-popping numbers she’s producing. Heading into Sunday’s game at Illinois, only three players across the entire country have more assists than Dembele’s 77 through the season’s first 11 games. And only four players have more steals than her 35.

With 7.0 assists per game, she’s on pace to challenge for Mizzou’s single season record of 7.5, set in 1983-84 by Dee-Dee Polk. At 3.2 steals per game, Dembele could be the first Mizzou player to average more than 3 per game since the great Amanda Lassiter (3.1) in 2000-01.

Memorial Stadium Improvement Project Update

Hopefully you saw the news Friday morning that the UM Board of Curators approved the hiring of architect firm DLR Group to serve as the consultant for the Memorial Stadium Improvements Project. The project is expected to be complete by the middle of August 2026. We understand there are many questions about the project and its scope – and a few came up on social media this morning:

Q: Do you have an estimate of the number of added premium seats?

A: No, but with the hiring of DLR, planning for the stadium’s programming can begin. 

Q: Dave, do they have an idea as to when they will first break ground?

A: No, stay tuned. 

Q: Can we please see some renderings, Dave?

A: There are no renderings to see on the day the architect is hired. 

Matter’s Weekly Power Rankings

Each week we’ll highlight the Best of Mizzou with a different theme. This week: Mizzou Football’s best walk-ons in the last 25 years.

1. Cody Schrader (2022-23): When you win the award for the nation’s best player who began his career as walk-on, you earn the top spot here. Schrader, the Burlsworth Trophy winner and Doak Walker Award finalist, leads the nation in rushing yards per game (124.9) heading into bowl season and this week became just the 15th consensus All-American in team history. Here’s the esteemed company Cody joins as Mizzou’s consensus All-Americans: Darold Jenkins (1941), Danny LaRose (1960), Johnny Roland (1965), Roger Wehrli (1968), Kellen Winslow (1978), John Clay (1986), Rob Riti (1999), Martin Rucker (2007), Jeremy Maclin (2007, 2008), Chase Coffman (2008), Michael Egnew (2010), Michael Sam (2013) and Shane Ray (2014).

23 FB - Schrader At Arkansas

2. Jeff Wolfert (2006-08): The three-time All-Big 12 kicker jumped off the diving board and onto the football field and became the most prolific kicker in program history. He still holds Mizzou’s single-season scoring record (133, 2008) and until this season held the career scoring record (362). Wolftert drilled 185 consecutive PATs in his career, never missing a single attempt.

3. Tommy Saunders (2005-08): The wideout’s walk-on status didn’t last long as he quickly became a playmaker, a reliable third-down threat and a team leader and captain. The kid from Kearney teams loaded with major stars at receiver and tight end, Saunders finished his career with 150 catches — sixth-most in program history at the time — for 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also started 41 consecutive games — more than any Mizzou wide receiver before or since.

4. Colin Brown (2005-08): The big man from Braymer became a two-year starter at right tackle for some of the best offensive teams Mizzou fans have ever seen, anchoring the right edge as a two-time All-Big 12 performer who developed into an NFL draft pick and spent five years in the league.

5. Barrett Banister (2018-22): Another third-down standout, Banister became an incredibly valuable part of the passing game and by the end of his six-year stay at Mizzou had caught 137 passes for 1,269 yards and two scores.

In the running: OG Max Copeland, RB Dawson Downing, PK Grant Ressel, LS Beau Brinkley, PK Sean Koetting,

Tiger Trivia

Find answers at the end of today’s newsletter.

1. Ahead of next year’s visit from Boston College, Mizzou football has home victories over four current ACC programs. Name the teams and the years they lost in Columbia.

2. When Mizzou men’s basketball faces Seton Hall on Sunday in Kansas City it will mark their second all-time meeting. Three first-round NBA draft picks played in the last matchup along with a current head coach who’s won a national championship. Name all four former players.

Looking Ahead

Sunday, Dec. 17

Men’s & Women’s Swimming and Diving at Auburn Diving Invite (Auburn, Alabama)

Wrestling vs. Air Force, 1 p.m., Flo Wrestling

Women’s Basketball at Illinois, 3 p.m., Big Ten Network (Champaign, Illinois)

Men’s Basketball vs. Seton Hall, 4 p.m., ESPN (Kansas City)

Monday, Dec. 18

Men’s & Women’s Swimming and Diving at Auburn Diving Invite (Auburn, Alabama)

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Men’s & Women’s Swimming and Diving at Auburn Diving Invite (Auburn, Alabama)

Wednesday, Dec. 20

Men’s & Women’s Swimming and Diving at Auburn Diving Invite (Auburn, Alabama)

Thursday, Dec. 21

Wrestling vs. Illinois, 7 p.m. (St. Louis)

Women’s Basketball vs. Kansas City, 7 p.m., SEC Network+

Friday, Dec. 22

Men’s Basketball vs. Illinois, 8 p.m., FS1 (St. Louis)

Tiger Trivia

1. Virginia (1973), North Carolina (1976), Louisville (1981), Clemson (1996)

2. Seton Hall and Mizzou met in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Mizzou’s roster featured first-round pick Anthony Peeler, while Seton Hall featured future first-rounders Terry Dehere and Luther Wright and current Connecticut coach Dan Hurley, who won the 2023 NCAA Championship.

This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics