MO State HS Sports
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Mizzou opponent preview: Murray State

By: Grant Salsman

Missouri football will open its season hosting Murray State on Thursday, Aug. 29.

The Tigers are coming off of a magical 11-2 season that saw them have dramatic victories over Kansas State, Florida and Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.

Missouri will now enter this season with a heightened sense of expectation. The Tigers return starting quarterback Brady Cook and maybe the most versatile wide receiver room in the country, including Luther Burden III, Theo Wease, Mookie Cooper, Joshua Manning and Mekhi Miller.

The defensive side of the ball has the most to prove. After losing defensive coordinator Blake Baker to LSU, Corey Batoon will take his spot and responsibilities of play-calling.

The defense will lose stars like Ennis Rakestraw, Kris Abrams-Draine, Darius Robinson, and Ty’Ron Hopper. The Tigers will be looking to players like Kristian Williams, Johnny Walker Jr. and even possibly 5-star freshman Williams Nwaneri to shore up the defensive line.

At cornerback, Drey Norwood will start which he did frequently in 2023 filling in for injury. Mizzou also will be turning to Clemson transfer Toriano Pride to help lock up opposing receivers.

Let’s take a closer look at Mizzou’s first opponent, Murray State:

The Racers compete in the Missouri Valley Conference for football and went 1-7 in the conference last year and 2-9 overall.

The Racers are a program in change as it will be Jody Wright’s first year as a head coach. Wright has been coaching since 2002 with stops at Mississippi State, Alabama, the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants. Most recently, Wright was the tight ends coach at South Carolina.

There are three quarterbacks on the roster but all three are sophomores and have one appearance between them. The quarterback that is most likely not in the running for the starting spot is Brice Koontz. However Isaac McNamee and Joe Humphreys will give coach Wright his first big decision. McNamee did not make an appearance last season and was redshirted. In 2022 he made his only career start going 7 for 22 in the Racers’ 31-0 loss to Ball State. Humphreys has yet to make an appearance at the collegiate level. He started his career at Miami of Ohio in 2022 where he was redshirted before transferring to Murray State before last season.

Jawaun Northington was the leading rusher for Murray State in 2023. The tailback rushed for 380 yards on 86 attempts in nine games while contributing two touchdowns. The Louisville native will hope for more chances in his senior year.

Unfortunately for the Racers, their top three leading receivers from 2023 have all left the program. Jacob Bell, who had just 187 yards last year, will be expected to carry the load in 2024.


Last season the Tigers opened their season against another FCS school, South Dakota, which they won 35-10. However, it was a very dull 35-point performance. Missouri was leading 28-3 at halftime but only managed seven points in the second half. Things will go differently this time as the Tigers will enter a season with the most expectations on them in 15 years. Couple that with one of the worst teams in the FCS and it could be a blowout.

Final score prediction: 62-3. Missouri dominates from start to finish and even the backups are able to score on Murray State. Tigers start 1-0.