Here are my six opinions on Mizzou’s 30-23 victory over 15th-ranked Kansas State:

1. Obviously, this was a big win for coach Eli Drinkwitz and his program. “Sometimes it’s not always as fast as everybody wants it to be or I want it to be, but I think this is a step in the right direction and affirms what we believe in,” Drinkwitz said in the post-game media chat. “Redemption’s a beautiful thing.”

Sure, it was a step forward. Not to be a contrarian here, but I’m really not sure where the “redemption” part fits in. It’s all about winning. This is the coach’s fourth season at Missouri. Before Harrison Melvis propelled the winning, walkaway, party-starting field goal from 61 yards the Tigers had lost seven of their last eight games against ranked FBS competition.

This is an SEC program. And even though Mizzou experiences nothing remotely close to the intense pressure that boils around elite SEC teams. This isn’t Tuscaloosa, Athens or Baton Rouge, but even a softer level of expectations must be met. This applies to Coach Drinkwitz, who is generously compensated for his leadership.

At some point even the reasonable Mizzou fan base will lose patience and won’t be as happy with a sequence of six-win seasons padded by victories over helpless palookas.

This coach – like all coaches – must show that he’s building something that can elevate Mizzou above chronic mediocrity. And no one should apologize for wanting more, or questioning MU’s trajectory. Criticism – and financial comfort – comes with the gig. As Tony LaRussa often said: if you don’t like dealing with the heat then find something else to do for a living.

In games they entered as an unranked team, Saturday’s win was Mizzou’s first takedown over a ranked, non-conference opponent since upsetting No. 21 Arizona State in 1990.

It was a wonderful day in CoMo. The setting was loud and colorful. Drinkwitz and his team fought hard, made big plays, and rewarded the fans for their energy and loyalty. But let’s be real here, OK?

One victory over a ranked team doesn’t mean you get to throw down the “redemption” card. The only way to earn that right is to continue winning more games that matter … games that give you an opportunity to provide clear evidence that your program is rising. That can’t be done on one Saturday – it must be done over many Saturdays. Was the win over K-State a start? Absolutely. And it was entertaining and exciting.

2. At 3-0, Missouri is in position to secure a 5-0 start to the season. First up, Memphis at the Dome in St. Louis. Then if MU comes out of that with a win and a 4-0 ledger, then LSU visits CoMo for another big test for Drinkwitz and his team. But 5-0 is at least possible. And that’s the universal best-case scenario by fans and media.

Memphis will come in at 3-0 after beating Bethune-Cookman and Arkansas State and barely squeezing by a rebuilding Navy team. Given that this will be a Tigers vs. Tigers matchup, let’s hope Missouri fans can pack The Dome and turn the place into a zoo. Those XFL home games were raucous – and startling in a great way for the degree of passion – and now it’s time to do the same for Ol’ Mizzou. Don’t look now, but to this stage of the season Missouri has the most impressive non-conference win in the SEC. The possibility of 5-0 should rally the Show-Me fans in the Show-Me state. Meet us in St. Louis.

3. Way to go, Brady Cook. I don’t think any sane individual has ever questioned Cook’s toughness. Or his leadership that makes him so respected by his teammates. Or his dedication to Missouri – the state and the university. The grumbling over Cook had EVERYTHING to do with his deep-ball accuracy, and that’s a legitimate issue. If Missouri is limited in what it can accomplish through the air – hoping to win with 10,000 short passes – then this offense would never take off. And when your offense lacks a dangerous, threatening passing attack it’s a helluva lot easier to defend. That’s a problem. And it’s as simple as that. The other part of the frustration was Coach Drink’s inability to recruit a quarterback that could win the starting job from Cook.

If you can’t throw downfield, and can’t land a quarterback who can change your offense, then why would anyone be pleased with the state of Mizzou’s offense? Again, no apologies are necessary. This was all about Cook’s arm strength and how it impacted Missouri’s potential to open up offensively.

Two things Saturday: (A) Cook showed that his mangled right shoulder was fully healed and restored — and had had the firepower to rip deeper throws. (B) Because of their confidence in the quarterback’s arm strength, Drinkwitz and offensive coordinator Kirby Moore were more bold and creative. If their blandness was a strategy in the first two games – saving the good stuff for Kansas State – then it worked. Good job.

4. Tough (Brady) Cookie: The quarterback hurt his right knee in Saturday’s tussle, and you could see him limping. He pushed through the pain and hit on 23 of 35 passes for 356 yards; he’d never surpassed 242 yards in his previous career games against Power 5 opponents. He got into the K-State defense by throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for a TD. He had nine completions of 15+ yards including six that went for 25+ yards. The deep ball exists!

There were no turnovers. No panic. And Cook’s experience and leadership clicked in with the game on the line. He brought Missouri back from a four-point deficit with about nine minutes to play. With the game tied at 27-27, Cook calmly navigated the two-minute offense to set up the Mevis field goal to the moon that sent Mizzou fans over the moon with joy.

Cook did not freak out when the coach screwed up the late game/clock management, causing a delay of game penalty that turned the 56-yard attempt into a 61-yarder. Because of the knee, Cook’s running was minimal in the second half. But he won this game with his right arm. The same right arm that many questioned. Well, Cook answered those questions Saturday.

And in doing so, Mizzou improved to 3-0 to start the season, and they hadn’t won the firsts three games since 2018. The Tigers posted their first win against a top 15 opponent since 2018 – and their first home victory against a top 15 opponent since 2013.

5. Luther Burden III is ridiculous. And that’s a compliment. What a talent. And now that Cook has a stronger shoulder that can link to Burden’s exhilarating speed, Missouri can give fits to defenses all season. (Well, as long as the offensive line improves to keep the hounds away from Cook.) Burden caught two touchdowns Saturday – one on a longball, the second on a catch-and-run dazzler. Burden already has rolled up 327 receiving yards this season, and he’s already closing in on his total of 375 as a freshman last season. Because of the inherent limitations of the MU attack, Burden averaged only 8.3 yards per catch in 2022. Through the first three games this season, he’s averaging 14.9 yards per reception. Compare him to Jeremy Maclin. Compare him to any fast, elusive receiver that makes magic. But Burden is the most exciting talent we’ve seen on a Mizzou team in a long time. In a related positive, Cook completed 16 passes to wide receivers on Saturday.

6. The heart-stopper win over Kansas State was just what the MU program needed – and the fans wanted – but the magnitude of the impact will be reduced if Drinkwitz and his Tigers can’t build on it. They have to establish credibility and continue to reinforce it. If the Tigers can’t do that, then Saturday’s feel-good win will be remembered as a tease. But the opportunity is there for a season that will look a lot different than what we’ve been accustomed to seeing for too many years.

Yeah, it’s early and all of that. But except for Georgia, does any team in the SEC look intimidating to you? And even the superpower Georgia has been more sluggish than special so far. As Atlanta-based columnist Jeff Schultz wrote at The Athletic: “Georgia might be ranked No. 1, but it looks like an average team.”


Stewart Mandel, The Athletic: “We do have one SEC dark horse: Missouri. Wide receiver Luther Burden, a 2022 recruit who became the program’s first five-star signee in seven years, has been looking the part as a sophomore. His first two 100-yard games have come in the past two weeks, including a seven-catch, 114-yard performance Saturday against Kansas State featuring 47- and 26-yard TDs. Quarterback Brady Cook — who was booed at some point by Mizzou fans? — finished 23-of-35 for 356 yards, two TDs and 0 INTs as the Tigers upset the defending Big 12 champions 30-27. Mizzou’s most important player, however, was kicker Harrison Mevis, who hit a game-winning 61-yard field goal, the longest in SEC history. It was Mevis’ 11th-career 50-plus-yard field goal. Which NFL team will he be suiting up for next season?”

Chris Wright, Saturday Down South: “Mizzou’s clock management in the final minutes against No. 15 Kansas State was straight out of your typical 8 am Pop Warner game.

“How do you spike a pass to stop the clock to set up a game-winning kick attempt and then commit a delay of game penalty? That was Mizzou’s 2nd delay of game penalty in the final 5 minutes.

“Somehow, Mizzou overcame Drinkwitz’s horrendous clock management when Harrison Mevis nailed a historic 61-yard field goal at the buzzer to stun, well, everybody. It’s the longest kick in SEC history.

“Drinkwitz no doubt will turn the Mevis Miracle walk-off win over a ranked rival into another contract extension.

“Never change, college football.”

Shehan Jeyarajah, CBS Sports: “The Eli Drinkwitz era at Missouri has been defined by coming up short against strong opponents. The Tigers have won two-thirds of games against unranked opponents under Drinkwitz but were 0-8 against teams ranked higher than No. 25 in the AP Top 25 … until Saturday. Drinkwitz finally has a major victory to sell. Winning these kinds of matchups will be key to Missouri cementing itself a place in the SEC heading forward.”

That’s a wrap for me on this pleasant Sunday.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

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