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♫ I’m So Sophisticated ♫

My goodness.

I appreciate the desire to be bold and loud during Homecoming week. I really do. And while we were debating the merits of this war crime uniform on Slack, Madame Editor did point out that we’re in a gold rush this weekend.

Even still, what the absolute hell is happening here? None of the individual pieces are necessarily bad — although that helmet has a quite a bit happening — but together they are borderline abominable.

Please don’t lose in these uniforms. I can’t bear the double dose of embarrassment.

What’s On Tap?

This is a tough one. I absolutely must go with a drink native to Columbia, Mo., one because I’ll be there on Saturday and two because I am nothing if not sentimental about my college town booze options. And while I have a soft spot in my heart for places like DogMaster or Les Bourgeios, CoMo is where I developed my love of beer, so we’re gonna go with a simple local brew this week.

It feels like everyone has a different beer preference depending on when they spent their time in CoMo. A lot of folks are Logboat heads and for good reason — they’ve been cranking out quality stuff for the entirety of their life cycle. I know quite a few real townies who have an affinity for Broadway or RockBridge (shouts to Lucky’s, R.I.P, for serving $3 pints of Option #2 during lunchtime, you absolute psychos.) Still others cape for Flat Branch, whose regular rotation has been a dependable companion to their comforting entrees and apps. Personally, I always loved sipping on a Boone County Brown during a visit to Bur Oak.

But I have to be true to my roots and pick the beer that we served at my wedding — Logboat’s Mamoot. It’s the perfect beer for almost every purpose. Low on ABV, high on taste, you can crush a healthy amount before really feeling it. And I’ve always enjoyed every drink along the way.

Shout out to Option #2, Boone County Brown, and Oil Change Oatmeal Stout for always being there for me and to Craft Beer Cellar, 44 Stone and iTap for always serving up the good stuff.

Know Thy Enemy

Ah, it feels good to be back and previewing opponents, especially those whom, instead of feeling any measure of confidence, we’re terrified to lose to!

I’m sure you’ve heard it multiple times by now, but it bears repeating: Vanderbilt has lost 24-straight SEC games dating back to October 19th, 2019... when they beat Missouri in Nashville. It would be a wise choice for Eli Drinkwitz to not lose to this improving - but still bad - Commodores squad on Homecoming. But, hey! It’s at home! So it’s totally a game that Missouri can win!

Missouri isn’t only bad at offense, they’re also dealing with injuries! And in their most talented position! What luck! But the Commodores have one of the countries worst secondaries, and Missouri should be able to fall backwards into some measure of success?

I know Brady Cook isn’t the greatest passer in the world, and I know Burden/Banister/Lovett/pretty much the entire receiving corps is banged up right now. But the Commodores’ secondary will let you do almost anything you want and that should be the best way to move the ball. Cook managed a success rate over 50% against a better Florida defense (and Bazelak only achieved that level of success against SEMO!) and he should be able to do the same here.

On offense, Vanderbilt is a little stronger, but — and here’s the good news! — Missouri is actually pretty decent on defense... in case you hadn’t heard. They’ll still give up a few big plays, but they should be able to limit those against a Vanderbilt team that plays to Missouri’s strength.

This Missouri defense will blow up plays somewhere in the range of 26-30% of the time but also is prone to giving up six or seven big plays per game. I’m not asking Missouri to give up zero, just to limit the amount of times it happens. Five explosive plays is a manageable number here, especially since the Tigers usually give up big gains on the ground and Vandy is more prone to striking through the air.

Missouri is 2-4 after the halfway point in the season and the mood is pretty dreary. How are you feeling about the season? Is your glass half full or half empty?

Syndication: Gator Sports Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK

Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: Maybe it was my meager expectations headed into the season, but I think my glass is actually half full at this point! If you’d have told me going into the season that Missouri would come within one drive of beating Georgia, Auburn and Florida, I’d have taken that deal in a second. Would I have preferred not watching that dismal Kansas State game? Sure. But despite their moribund record, the Tigers appear to be quietly on the rise. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them surprise some folks in the second half.

Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: Half full for sure. In my eyes, this team is two pieces away from being a contender. Well, three pieces if you count “experience” as well (but that comes with time).

Outside of Kansas State, this team has competed and had a chance to win every game they have played. The defense has been borderline elite as Blake Baker and a host of transfers have been pleasant surprises, and the skill position players have lived up to the hype and then some.

So, that leaves us with two positions. Quarterback, where Brady Cook has been averageish but has cost this team some games, and offensive line. Yes, Cook has a lower ceiling than other QBs on this roster and has struggled in the passing attack, but I won’t label him as problem #1. This O-line hurts everything that happens within this offense due to penalties and poor blocking at times, and it remains the biggest weakness.

Still, I’d label Mizzou as the best 2-4 team in the nation, meaning they’re very close to being so much more.

Sammy Stava, Staff Writer: I’d put the glass as half full as well. Has this season been a disappointment with their 2-4 record? For sure, but this year’s schedule is more difficult than last year’s I’d say.

Last season, Missouri wasn’t competitive in their SEC losses to Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Georgia. Now, I know Auburn and Florida aren’t really good this season, but Missouri is a couple of plays away from being 4-2 (maybe even 5-1) right now.

The defense is legitimately a good unit under Blake Baker, the offense obviously needs to work some things out but the bye week came at the right time. There are some winnable games down the stretch and I think 6-6 bowl eligibility is still in play.

IT’S HOMECOMING WEEK! Not football related, but what’s your favorite part about homecoming at Mizzou? Aside from the fact that we invented it, of course.

Josh Matejka: Having been to some other schools’ homecoming weekends, I can firmly say that Missouri’s is... similar. I don’t know that you’d be able to fully distinguish the vibe or the energy that Mizzou puts out over other schools. That being said, there doesn’t seem to be a level of commitment to HoCo that I really enjoy. Festivities start taking place several weeks ahead of time, and the energy seems to envelope the whole city in a really pleasing way. I generally didn’t love the crazy traffic, but the buzz on campus was extremely fun, and it imprinted on me in a visceral way.

Parker Gillam: Being a part of Greek Life, Homecoming is frankly a very stressful time. That being said, I just thoroughly enjoy seeing the campus so alive. After COVID in 2020, I got to experience homecoming for the first time in 2021, and to see so many people in Columbia with so many events happening was incredible. Homecoming is everything stereotypical about college that you see in the movies, and I love it. Also, just the aspect of seeing so many old friends come back to campus and rekindle old times is hard to beat.

Sammy Stava: While I didn’t go to Mizzou, I obviously know that Homecoming is such a big deal. The last Mizzou Homecoming game I went to was the 2019 win against Ole Miss, and that was a cool atmosphere.

The parade is fun and the vibe around downtown Columbia is a cool scene.

There was a lot of talk during the bye week about Eli Drinkwitz giving some younger guys a chance to shine. Do you think that was lip service or straight talk from the coach? And which youngster do you think has the best shot at breaking out in the second half?

drinkwitz press conference

Josh Matejka: My inner cynic is going to come out here, but I can’t really believe Drinkwitz is going to suddenly turn to his young guns with bowl eligibility still on the line. Assuming the Tigers win the two games they should win (Vandy and NMSU), the Tigers are at 4-4 with three winnable games on the schedule. Until the Tigers are officially out of bowl contention, I think Drinkwitz is going to go with the team he believes will give him the best chance to win. And all signs suggest he believes that team is veteran-laden. That being said, we’ve already seen that he’s not afraid to turn to freshman Mekhi Miller in some big spots. Something tells me he still has a big role in a game or two this fall.

Parker Gillam: I think Drinkwitz wants to turn towards some of the younger guys, but I feel like he’s going to be too hesitant to do so. When the margin of error in some of these close games is so thin, I just can’t see him trusting a freshman or sophomore over an upperclassmen, even if they’re playing better.

Now, if there is someone that will pick it up, I’d go with Mekhi Miller and agree with Josh. He’s slowly earned the trust of this staff and has shown he can be a solid target on the field. I think Drinkwitz wants to start grooming him to be apart of the regular rotation next season.

Sammy Stava: What Josh said. There’s still bowl eligibility to play for which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. And it’s fair — because that’s a meaningful thing for the program to play for.

If Missouri is fortunate enough to have big enough leads against Vanderbilt and New Mexico State, maybe Sam Horn sees some garbage time playing time. For the most part, I still think Drinkwitz stays with his veteran, upperclassmen guys to make the most out of this season.

Since Josh and Parker went with Mekhi Miller, I’ll go with Tavorus Jones making the biggest impact out of the freshman just to find some more running back depth.

PICK ‘EM! Mizzou is a heavy favorite against Vanderbilt on Saturday, which seems right given Missouri’s few unfortunate losses and Vanderbilt’s general ineptitude. Do you expect Missouri to come roaring out of the bye week and cover? Who stars for the Tigers during HoCo?

Syndication: Gator Sports Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK

Josh Matejka: Hard to say with this team, which nearly beat Georgia and also scuffled past Abilene Christian at home. Perhaps this is the type of team that plays down to its opponent, which wouldn’t be at all surprising. However, I do think the Tigers will win this one by a comfortable margin, though it may not be a comfortable game. I’ll take Missouri at 27-14. And believe me, I know how much of a limb I’m going out on here... but I think this is the game where Luther Burden truly explodes onto the scene. He’s too good to be kept in check too much longer and with a few weeks for his ankle to rest, I think he’s due to put up a banger in his first Homecoming game.

Parker Gillam: Honestly, I just don’t see this team blowing anybody else out this season (besides NMSU of course). They don’t have an offense that can score at will on a bad defense, so I don’t believe that they’ll cover this weekend. That being said, this defense will shut down Vandy’s offense, making this a sluggish, low-scoring game. The talent on the Tiger offense will show its value, and I can see the running game having a strong outing as well.

No cover, but give me Mizzou 31-17. I think Nathaniel Peat is the star of the show and has a breakout performance.

Sammy Stava: Missouri is coming off a bye and Vanderbilt is coming off a 55-0 beatdown against Georgia. If there was ever a time for a “comfortable” cover win against an SEC opponent, this is it.

Mizzou covers with a 34-17 victory.

Brady Cook has his breakout game with at least 2 TD passes and 200+ passing yards.