Earlier this week, Eli Drinkwitz caused the most minor of stirs when he expressed his travel preferences (so to speak) moving forward.
Watch: #Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz said it's no knock on BC, but he'd much rather play a regional rivalry game as a road non-con matchup as opposed to playing at Boston College.— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) September 21, 2021
"I don't know the last time Missouri signed a kid from the great state of Massachusetts." pic.twitter.com/QZ3m55iTY0
Of course, the people that were going to get mad got mad because those people are always mad. And Boston College’s coach offered his thoughts on the matter, which equaled out to a whole lot of nothing.
Hafley's response to Drinkwitz's remarks about preferring a regional rivalry non-conference game over a trip to play at BC.— Andy Backstrom (@andybackstrom) September 22, 2021
"If he really didn’t want to come to Boston, he should have called me up & asked me, and I would have gotten on a plane and flew out to Missouri to play." pic.twitter.com/Ss7h3yYpch
The second part of the quote sounds a little passive aggressive, but it is what it is. The teams will play regardless.
The thing that has continually come to my mind this week is how effective a communicator Drinkwitz has turned out to be... and that he’s parlayed that skill into some level of institutional power. When he steps to the podium, Drinkwitz knows what he’s going to say, and he carefully chooses his words to convey the message he wants to put out there. And in this case, his message was clear: let’s find a way to play more regional games that mean more to high school kids in the area. It fits directly into his goal of locking up regional recruits, and fires up fans who want to see some of the school’s older rivalries come back.
So when Drinkwitz delivered his comments on Tuesday, it’s prudent to realize that he was likely speaking to his fellow power brokers in the athletic department. As long as Drinkwitz is at the helm, expect to see Missouri leaning more into regional fare than some of the horrendous games that are on the schedule in the coming years.
Came Through Drippin’
Coming into what is arguably the biggest game of their season, the costumes department comes through with what is arguably the best fit. I’m always partial to the all whites they displayed in Week 2, but this is a masterclass in simplicity. Black and white all the way down with the gold accents and the lined Block M is near perfection. Old school look for what is hopefully a businesslike win.
What the “Experts” are Saying
- At the Post-Dispatch, Jeff Gordon wrote about Missouri’s opportunity to make a statement in Boston, while Dave Matter and Ben Frederickson discussed the defense’s chance to prove doubters wrong after a slow start to the season.
- Lila Bromberg at the Kansas City Star wrote about the scariest subject a Missouri fan can think of right now: a stiff challenge for the run defense.
- Despite the betting line, SP+ has Boston College at a 59 win percentage, with a projected score of 32-28. It should be noted, however, that the model doesn’t account for missing personnel.
- CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee is taking Missouri over the Eagles in a battle of strengths (BC’s pass defense vs. Connor Bazelak.)
- Saturday Down South has Missouri over BC by 5 points, but calls the game a “wild card.”
Mizzou responded as it should have after a tough loss, roughing up SEMO in a game that was over by the end of quarter one. While it’s difficult to take away too much from an FCS game, was there anything you saw that encouraged you about Mizzou’s effort?
Kortay Vincent, Football Beat Writer: I actually really liked what I saw from Mizzou this week. I know it was against SEMO, but they didn’t mess around. It’s easy to walk into a game against an FCS opponent and just think that you’re going to win with minimal effort, but that’s not what Mizzou did. They marched up and down the field relentlessly in the first half, and the majority of the rushing yards they surrendered were QB scrambles. Yes, the second half was weird, but most of those players don’t know the defense yet, so if Drink isn’t worried, I’m not going to be either.
Parker Gillam, Football Beat Writer: For me, it had to be the involvement of all members of the offense. We saw Mookie Cooper finally have a breakout game, Dominic Lovett played well, and even guys like JJ Hester and Michael Cox were big-time performers. Bazelak appears to be meshing with his new targets now, and it will make this offense that much more dangerous to have quality targets spread across the field.
Sammy Stava, Staff Writer: It could be challenging to get up for an FCS opponent, especially in an 11 a.m. game coming off a tough loss in conference play. However, Mizzou did exactly what they needed to do in this game in a season where a couple of FCS teams have upset some Power Five teams. The game was never in doubt, like it should have been. The effort was there until probably the fourth quarter when the game was over anyway — so that didn’t really matter all that much. I certainly liked what I saw from Brady Cook and Tyler Macon, albeit in a small sample size.
No one reasonable expects Mizzou to make a run at the SEC East this season, but the Boston College game could represent a big swing in how we perceive the Tigers moving forward. Win or lose, what does this game mean to Mizzou in 2021?
Kortay Vincent: Personally, if Mizzou doesn't win this game, I won’t view them as seriously. I think without Jurkovec, Boston College is incredibly beatable. Last week their QB was 7-15 against a bad Temple team. I might be in the minority, but in my eyes, this is a game they’re supposed to win, so they need to go take care of business.
Parker Gillam: This was one of the bigger swing games of Mizzou’s season, but now with the Eagles missing Jurkovec, this becomes a must-win game. Having already picked up a loss in-conference, the Tigers need some positive momentum as they enter the thick of conference play. Losing twice in the first four weeks would be brutal, and staying around that ideal 8-win mark would become that much more difficult. This is a measuring stick game against another program looking to make a name for themselves within their conference.
Sammy Stava: I don’t really want to call this a must-win game, because I don’t think it would be a complete disaster if the Tigers lose on the road to a Power Five opponent. This won’t make or break their season because there are still winnable games on the schedule with Tennessee, North Texas, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina to get you to six wins and a bowl game at the very least. However, if Mizzou wants to have a 7-5 or 8-4 type of season, there’s very little room for error the rest of the way to make that happen if they lose this one — especially after losing to Kentucky. So yes, it’s a highly important game and one you very much like to take care of especially without Phil Jurkovec— but I’m not pressing the panic button and calling this a must win.
Boston College lost its starting QB early in the season, but is still 3-0 with three convincing wins. The Eagles are receiving AP Top 25 votes and look poised for what could be a breakout season. Are you buying or selling on BC?
Kortay Vincent: SELL, SELL, SELL. I don’t see Boston college finishing this season strong at all. Yes, they’re 3-0, but without Jurkovec, I think the wheels could come off this quick. I expect Mizzou to win and then they play Clemson a week later, so it’s likely they’ll be 3-2 before you know it, and all of a sudden you’re almost back to square one. Your QB just cant go 7-15 against a Temple team that hasn’t been respectable since Matt Rhule was there, and you be an intimidating foe. I expect the Eagles to finish around 7-5 or maybe 8-4.
Parker Gillam: Selling. Jurkovec was such a key factor in this team’s success. They no longer have guys like AJ Dillon or Andre Williams who are running it 35+ times per game and can carry the team. Without their starter at QB, this team struggled against 1-2 Temple (backup Denis Grosel went 7/15 with an INT). Zay Flowers is a really underrated playmaker and is the lone player Mizzou needs to really key in on, but he can only do so much for that offense. Unless Grosel drastically improves, this is a middle-of-the-pack ACC team that unfortunately had far higher expectations for this season.
Sammy Stava: I’m selling Boston College without Phil Jurkovec, but they’re still going to be worth monitoring whether Mizzou wins or loses this game. Jurkovec is a huge loss for this team, but who knows? Maybe they’ll find other ways to win and end up having a decent season. But no, either way I don’t see the Eagles as a threat in the ACC or in the mix for the Top 25.
PICK ‘EM! The Tigers opened as a -2.5 favorite over the Eagles, with the over/under set at 59. Which way are you betting, and which Mizzou Tiger is key to helping them secure victory number three on Saturday?
Kortay Vincent: If Mizzou doesn't win this game by multiple scores, I will be disappointed. I like the Tigers against the spread and the over. As for the player who I think will make the biggest impact, I’m going to go with Dominic Lovett staying hot after his impressive performance last week.
Parker Gillam: I will take Mizzou to cover as well. The offense appears to be in a rhythm as Bazelak has settled in with his wide receivers, and Boston College just does not have the team speed to slow down Badie and co. I will take the spread in Missouri’s favor, but give me the under 59. I think BC is going to attempt to make this a sloppy, low-scoring affair, and they will slow down the Tiger offense for a bit. Still, Missouri will prevail, and it will in large part be thanks to their own version of Zay Flowers: Mookie Cooper. I think, much like Lovett, he should build off a strong Week 3 and continue to become a larger part of the offense.
Sammy Stava: As much as I downplayed this as a must-win game.....I do like Missouri to win this one in a business like performance. Mizzou will cover, but the under will hit. I’ll say 30-21 Tigers. Tyler Badie will have another big day on the ground to continue his early season momentum.