I’m getting tired, y’all.
The Revue is, and will continue to be, a labor of love that I cherish deeply. I love it so much, in fact, that we’ve got some special things planned just around the corner. But that’s for later, and this is for now. And right now, I need a damn football win.
It feels like I’m constantly complaining about the types of games that are hardest to write about. Blowouts, last second losses, agonizing no-shows... all contenders! But I think I finally found the most specific type of loss that feels nigh impossible to cover. That’s right, the dreaded keep-things-close-just-long-enough-to-have-your-defense-fall-apart-and-let-the-other-team-run-up-the-score-in-the-fourth-quarter-even-though-you-didn’t-play-all-that-badly-for-the-majority-of-the-game. Just a vintage terrible L. You hate to see them.
I feel bad for Mizzou’s team, I really do. It’s become cliche to say that they’re only a few plays away from blah-blah-blah-fart noise who cares at this point, right? If I don’t, I’m sure you don’t! But there is something to the fact that, when you look at the 10 games Missouri has played, they’ve only really been completely outclassed in two of them. In every other game — from the time they played a Death Star to the time I pissed someone off with too many baptism jokes — Missouri has had a puncher’s chance. But sometimes you punch like Ali, and sometimes you punch like the old guy in The Wedding Singer. For the vast majority of the season, Mizzou has been the latter.
So with two games left, Missouri has lost its margin for error on bowl eligibility. Luckily, things are looking somewhat up. They get to close their campaign against New Mexico State, whom I assume does in fact have a football team they’ll be sending and that this isn’t just some elaborate virtual reality stunt they’re playing on us to study our content in a lab, and Arkansas, which has looked surprisingly human after their fans insisted they were the SEC West’s new superpower.
Both games come in Columbia, where fan support has been strong all season. Eli Drinkwitz, fresh off a contract extension, is risking his first non-bowl eligible season in Columbia. Something tells me he’ll get something done. But until then, I will wait dutifully for a win to inject new life into my resolve to keep The Revue thriving.
Things always seem better in your memory, don’t they?
I remember the first time I saw Without a Paddle. As a good evangelical kid from the ‘burbs, watching the 2004 stoner comedy felt like engaging with a forbidden fruit. There was swearing, drug paraphernalia, and double entendre galore... in reality, a fairly tame PG-13 movie that, to me, felt like a transgressive art piece. The thrill contributed to the enjoyment, as I always referred to this as one of my favorite under-appreciated comedies of the era. That is, until I rewatched it within the last few years and realized it was cheeks.
Like Without a Paddle, the Missouri vs. Tennessee series is one that you remember fondly and don’t care for in the present. Remember when Mizzou and Tennessee went to like 17 overtimes in Knoxville? Those halcyon days when Derek Dooley was roaming the sidelines at Neyland Stadium? Remember when Mizzou punked Butch Jones so hard that he got canned right after? There’s a reason those days feel good. From 2012 to 2018, Missouri walked over Tennessee to the tune of 5-2.
In the present, however, things are definitely less cool and fun. Mizzou’s closest loss to Tennessee since the turn of the decade was by 23 points. In the past three match ups, they’ve been outscored 163-60. Tennessee’s fans — only outdone by Auburn in the staggering levels of coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs — have seen a rebirth under former Tiger offensive coordinator Josh Heupel while Mizzou is still waiting for the day Eli Drinkwitz finally hires his own OC.
Let’s face it, some things just don’t age well. Like entire plots built around misogynistic do-nothings who invade and destroy private weed farms. Or having to play Tennessee every year. I can’t decide which is worse.
★☆☆☆☆ for the game, ★☆☆☆☆ for Without a Paddle which I remember liking as a young kid but really didn’t like during a recent rewatch
Just like last week, I’m going to grade this game on a curve.
I felt with a pretty firm amount of confidence that this game wasn’t going to go Mizzou’s way. Much to my chagrin, Tennessee is a damn good football team with an offense that will hammer the piss out of any team outside of Athens, Georgia. In order for Mizzou to keep up they were going to have to... you know, keep up. We all knew how that attempt was going to fly in Knoxville. It didn’t. But the fact that it got off the ground was a start!
Mizzou was within 4 points in the third quarter, a victory so moral you could call it Mother Theresa. But Josh Heupel’s Volunteers are designed in a laboratory to give teams like this year’s Tigers — predators on defense and prey on offense — fits. And that’s just what they did, wearing down Missouri’s 13th ranked defense until it wasn’t ranked 13th anymore! Still, I’m prone to give Missouri the benefit of the doubt. In almost every other game this season — including the one against the team that punched Tennessee in the nose and then again in the teeth — Missouri has held its own through defensive determination and a whole lot of grit. That’s not going to work against teams that never stop going, even when the game is effectively over.
Does it make the outcome any less fun? Not exactly. But to borrow from The Revue, it’s like a movie where you sort of check out in the last 30 minutes. You’re scrolling the timeline or playing a game on your phone while the third act resolves itself and you check up once every 10 seconds or so. You’ll still get the gist of the good stuff, but the bad stuff will mostly fly right by you. Doesn’t make it any less bad, but the impact is neutralized quite a bit. That, coupled with the fact that it was a pretty damn good game for two and a half quarters, is enough for me to give this precisely two out of five SEC East title trophies which adds up to the total amount of SEC East title trophies both Mizzou and Tennessee have won in the last 15 years.
Isn’t that something?
Disrespectful Play Index
I think I’m ready to call it, everyone. Luther Burden III is Mizzou’s most disrespectful player this year.
Sure, Burden’s freshman season hasn’t lived up to the lofty heights many may have envisioned, though I would argue a lot of that has to do with the team around him. But with two weeks left in the season, Burden has now been the focus of three Disrespectful Play Indexes. Half of Burden’s touchdowns end up in The Revue. I guess that’s what happens when you make everyone else on the field look silly?
For your weekly refresher, here are the categories...
Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play? (0-20)
Category 2: How hard did the defense try? (0-20)
Category 3: How much did his teammates help? (0-5)
Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward? (0-20)
Category 5: How did everyone not involved react? (0-15)
Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider? (0-20)
And here’s the play in question.
- Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play?
This is always a tricky category to judge as there are so many factors in play during any given situation. Who are the defenders chasing you down and did they take good angles? What’s the field like? Did your teammates help you out at all (though we’ve tried to control that factor in other categories)?
It’s hard to look at this play and call it overly difficult, though Luther Burden’s immense talents are helping quite a bit.
Burden moves into the backfield and then back into motion with a cut so fierce that the defender almost left his soul behind. By the time he gets the ball from Cook, Burden’s got a good step or two on his man, leaving him on an island with the most purely talented player on the field. It was never going to end well for this guy.
From there, Burden turns on the afterburners and our poor, hapless defender gets a face full of turf. See below for more gory details.
- Category 2: How hard did the defense try?
You can’t knock him for his effort, I’ll tell you that.
Despite getting left for dead between the hashes, Burden’s man goes all out in trying to catch him, taking a pretty good angle to cut Burden off before he turns the corner and takes the ball to the house. Unfortunately, Burden is too damn fast and too damn shifty to cede any ground and my guy ends up with two heaping armfuls of nothing. Clean dive, though.
- Category 3: How much did his teammates help?
This is about as little help as you can get considering he’s all alone on his side of the field. I won’t go 0 because Brady Cook has missed these passes before, but once the ball is in Luther’s hands, it’s all HIM.
- Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?
AND NOW we finally arrive at the time when Categories 4 and 5 will carry this week’s score. I didn’t think it was possible, folks, but we did it!
And of course it’s courtesy of Luther Burden. Why wouldn’t it be? The man only gives us everything, why wouldn’t he also give us this gift?
After Burden’s touchdown, he immediately drops the ball and walks with a passion, nay a passion, toward the Tennessee student section. He knew exactly where he was headed, and it was to piss off a bunch of angry Tennessee nerds. He began doing a celebration that, despite some sleuthing, I can’t quite decipher. It’s like he’s pulling his face mask or helmet down... almost like a reverse, upside-down Superman? I don’t know, maybe I’m getting old.
In this case, it’s less about the celebration itself and more about the energy he’s communicating, and it is primal “f*** you” energy. Even The Horse wants in on the action!
Honestly, we’re in the same realm as Brady Cook stunting on the South Carolina fans a few weeks ago. It’s soooooooooooo early in the game, you’re on the road and we’re adding in the fact that Tennessee has an offense that’s most likely going to road grade you? WHY ARE YOU BEING SO COCKY, I LOVE IT, FIVE STARS FOR YOU, LUTHER BURDEN!
- Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
Sure, there’s the obvious denizens of the second category that will prop up Burden’s score. Angry college kids. They’re part and parcel with any directly catered celebration by the visitors. Having watched English soccer for a while now, they actually seem pretty tame in comparison.
The real gem of this week, however, has to go to (and I believe this is correct) line judge Chris Conway, who works so damn hard to give Luther Burden a stern talking to with which Burden had precisely no time to be bothered. Following the touchdown and celebration — which Burden repeated a few times followed by a hard stare that would make Paddington proud — he’s joined by a few teammates to head back toward the sideline. That’s when Conway enters the picture.
I’m not sure what Conway thought he was going to accomplish in this moment, but I think I know what his original intent was and that was to give Luther Burden a talking to, young man. Now see here, mister, it is impolite to taunt other people that way. How would you feel if someone made fun of you? Not very good, huh? You see, son it’s all about the Golden Rule...
I could go on, but you get the picture.
The real cherry on top of this massive L Sunday that Conway is taking is how he literally wags his finger at Burden as he walks away, totally unbothered by the crusty old white guy talking to him in the background. It’s the best part of this entire sequence, watching Conway give Burden a very serious and stern address while Burden chooses to pay him not even the slightest bit of attention. I can’t even be sure Burden knows this man exists.
We don’t believe in extra credit here at The Revue. You get from this world what you’re willing to put into it. But I also believe in ignoring the stale advice of baggy old dudes, so Burden gets extra points here.
- Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?
Not entirely. I suppose if you really wanted to stretch it you could say there’s some lingering bad blood in the locker room about last year’s blowout loss, but that wouldn’t translate to Luther Burden necessarily. Maybe the sight of that horrible orange is enough to incite rage and loathing into his heart? It certainly is for me!
Luther Burden’s touchdown was 80 percent disrespectful to Tennessee, its fans and the referees.
Superlatives and Awards
Most Aggressive: Hell yeah, Blake Baker
TOP 5 GRAB BAG— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) November 14, 2022
Mizzou blitzed on SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT of Vol pass attempts. Hell yes. You got knocked the hell out, but you threw some haymakers.
(Also, 29 touches for Corum is too many in a game like that!!) pic.twitter.com/NEtIKVOLl9
My man said, “Get ‘em”
Most Likely to Incite a Fan Riot Through Inactivity: Sam Horn? Isiaih Mosley? I CAN’T DECIDE!
Most Likely To Get An Extension and Raise:
Eli Drinkwitz Josh Heupel, securing bags from CoMo to Knoxville
Least Likely to Win An SEC East Title in the Next Five Years:
Can’t get within a score of Georgia? Couldn’t be my team!