I’m in my feelings today, folks. There. I said it.
Mizzou’s shot at winning the SEC East, the SEC outright and, potentially, a berth to the College Football Playoff? Effectively gone. Just like all of Mizzou’s most special seasons, the Tigers look like they’ll come up just short. And it’s a real bummer. What could’ve been...
But I think I can soldier on and get this column filed. Onward.
Does anyone remember The Break-Up? Does anyone remember when Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn dated? I feel like that part of my memory is in what I like to call, “the dream zone.” It’s a murky area between 2005 and 2007 when a lot of my memories feel lost to the ether of waning childhood and the emergence of my adulthood. Nothing from that time feels real, though it all feels possible... if that makes sense.
I vaguely remember watching this movie... I think there’s a scene where they argue about washing dishes? I know there’s a scene that everyone talked about where Anniston walked around naked in front of Vaughn. And I seem to remember people talking about this as if it were Eyes Wide Shut Part II, where we all witnessed the real-time collapse of a celebrity relationship for the sake of our entertainment. I don’t know though... it all feels like a dream.
I think that dream-like quality is what’s drawing me to think of The Break-Up as I look back on Missouri’s ill-fated trip to Athens. I’ll go on the record as saying I think Mizzou played one hell of a game, and they have nothing to be ashamed of overall. Sure, they made mistakes. But generally you can also count on the other team to make mistakes of their own and/or not take advantage of yours.
Unfortunately, it feels like Mizzou (specifically Brady Cook) made two bad decisions on the day and was punished mercilessly for it. All the while, Georgia played a disciplined, clean game of their own. That’s the difference between very good teams and elite teams.
Mizzou’s bid to win their third SEC East title and get another shot at winning the SEC outright is now, for all intents and purposes, dead. That doesn’t mean the season is over or that Mizzou can’t still finish as one of the very best teams in the country. But even Eli Drinkwitz admits that one of the team’s goals is now off the table or, at the very least, out of their hands.
What’s disappointing about that fact is not so much that the Tigers didn’t do what’s necessary to earn it. In fact, I’d posit this team is close to or as good as those teams in 2013 and 2014. Rather, it’s the fact that this very talented team will now go down in Mizzou Football history as “pretty good!” rather than “legendary.” To be honest, it’s a distinction I thought they were worthy of... but now they’re lacking the bonafides.
One final thing I remember about The Break-Up, though, makes me think it’s a great comparison with Mizzou vs. Georgia: I seem to remember there being a happy ending? An acknowledgement of the fact that even though this specific relationship didn’t work out, there was something better in store for the two parties.
I think that’s where Mizzou can find the light moving forward. Saturday’s loss was disheartening, but it wasn’t back-breaking. It felt like a confirmation of Mizzou’s trajectory and a deferral to later success. If their effort in Athens is to be believed, things are headed in the right direction.
Was Mizzou meant to be with the 2023 SEC Football trophy? No, that dream is dead. But maybe a new dream can be born in its wake?
★★★☆☆ for the loss to Georgia, ★★☆☆☆ for The Break-Up, which can’t be all that good but can’t be all that bad based on the fact that it stuck in my head for all these years
Like I said above... that was a good game! Right? I can’t be alone in thinking that. Apart from the two late interceptions and a few too many Missouri penalties, that game felt like a heavyweight fight between the reigning champ and a worthy contender for the belt.
Naturally, that doesn’t take away from the sting of the final result. It’s hard to say that a Missouri game went well if they walk away with fewer points than the opponent. But as we’ve suggested said many times over the past few days, you have to re-calibrate your point of view when the opponent in question is Georgia. I mean, come on... they haven’t lost a regular season game in three years.
What was highly encouraging in my eyes — or should I say ears in this case? — was the sheer amount of times CBS’s broadcast team talked about how un-Georgia-like the Bulldogs appeared. “Carson Beck is rattled,” was a common refrain, as was, “this is the first time I’ve seen Georgia’s offensive line struggle to contain another team.” Missouri’s offense wasn’t exactly purring, but they didn’t have all that much trouble moving the ball when they really needed to. Cody Schrader, for instance, had his way with the Georgia front and Brady Cook found it fairly easy to move the ball through the air... including when there was a Bulldog on the end of the pass.
I can’t go over the top. Missouri did lose, and that’s never a cause for celebration. But I was pleasantly refreshed by their performance. It was a confirmation of most of the good things I’ve felt about them this year, as well as the fact that there’s still some room to improve.
For pushing Georgia to the limit between the hedges, I’m giving Mizzou 3 out of 5 fresh Georgia peaches. Yes, I know it’s not peach season, get off my back.
Disrespectful Play Index
As one could reasonably expect from a game played against the Georgia Bulldogs, this was an affair short of flash. Everything was contained, buttoned-up and, for the most part, pretty gentlemanly and respectful.
This is not why I watch football. If I wanted something stodgy and uptight, I’d watch baseball highlights pre-2010. I watch football to see dudes get in other dudes’ faces. To watch someone juke another man out of his skeleton and then dance over his lifeless corpse. To see a kicker send a football to the next dimension and then sprint the length of the field.
None of that happened in Athens, Georgia, this weekend. And it’s a damn shame. But we still have a pretty impressive play from Luther Burden that is worth writing about.
As a reminder, here’s the rubric with which we grade...
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?
I’d like to point out that the defensive back that Burden shakes off by a full body’s length here is Daylen Everette, the 18th ranked recruit of the 2022 high school class. The five-star product of IMG Academy was the third-best corner in the country and has been a monster for the Bulldogs in his sophomore season.
A sophomore cooking in his second year. Sound familiar?
I point all of that out because I think it makes the play all that more impressive. There’s definitely some mutual contact happening at the point of separation, but watch Burden get a burst of speed right before the ball lands in his basket. It comes out of nowhere. Burden is pulling that kind of stuff out of the quantum realm, or at least I have to assume so. There’s no physical explanation for how a man bursts that quickly mid-run, especially against a strong corner like Everette. 17/20
Category 2: How hard did the defense try?
Credit to Everette, he recovers well after Burden shakes him. Five-star talents don’t get cooked often, but when they do, they’re not down long. Everette does a great job closing in on Burden at the point of the catch and making it a really difficult conversion. But Everette, after all, was only the eighteenth-ranked player in the country in his class. That’s four whole spots below Burden. Recruiting rankings don’t lie. 16/20
Category 3: How much did his teammates help?
Look at that got damn pocket. So clean. So sanitary. You could eat off that pocket! 1/5
Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?
You know how smooth Luther Burden is? Here’s how smooth Luther Burden is.
In the midst of a 1-on-1 battle with one of the best young corners in the country, Luther Burden pulls down a tough catch, does a smooth tuck-and-roll and rises to his feet to face the Georgia faithful. That’s elite athleticism and some smooth operator shit.
And am I misinterpreting Burden’s body language here? Or is he barking at Georgia fans? He definitely starts seizing in a bark-like fashion. I’m going to choose to believe it, because it would require stones of which only Luther Burden’s talent can back up.
Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
I love Brady Cook’s reaction here. Like he’s saying, “What did you expect?” Cook has been one of the SEC’s best downfield passers this season, and he showed he could do it against Georgia. The trip to Athens wasn’t his best game of the year, and he needs to make smarter decisions late in the game. But he’s been dropping dimes all season. I mean, what did we expect? 13/15
Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?
You could certainly argue that this is the biggest stage on which Luther Burden has played thus far. In fact, I don’t think you could reasonably argue against that. However, I don’t know how much that would’ve changed Burden’s standing. It’s widely accepted at this point that he’s one of the best receivers in the country, so it’s expected that he’ll perform against the best secondaries. That he did so this early in the game is no surprise. So while we have to credit him for beating Georgia’s vaunted secondary, it’s become commonplace for LB3. 12/20
Superlatives and Awards
Best Prospective NIL Deal
Folks, I’m officially worried about all these Luther Burden III injuries. My man can’t stay 100 percent for more than two or three touches a game. Can we get him a big, fat sponsored deal with some kind of cryotherapy business in St. Louis, CoMo or KC? Ice baths and massage tables clearly aren’t cutting it anymore... put my man on ice!
The Himothy Award for Most “Him” Performance
For the second time in as many games, this award has to go to Cody Schrader. Hanging 112 and a touchdown on the Dawgs, often making their NFL-caliber defenders look hapless against your Kirksville-forged power and speed? You can’t argue with that. And if you do, you’ll be directly referred to our complaints office.
Best Meme Award
In something of a disappointing end to this post — yeah, I know, they can’t all be winners — there’s not really a lot of meme-worthy material out there. Saturday’s tussle was a true heavyweight match up, after which Mizzou’s mentions were flooded with Georgia fans congratulating them on a game well-played. It feels strange... Mizzou definitely would’ve been talking trash in the case of an upset. But Georgia fans have bigger fish to fry, it seems, and are willing to throw kudos to Mizzou rather than shade.
Woo-hoo, I guess?