It has been an eventful and wildly successful year of 2023 for Mizzou Athletics. From men’s basketball’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2010 in year one under Dennis Gates to a breakthrough 11-win Cotton Bowl title season for the football program under Eli Drinkwitz and an individual national championship from Tiger Style’s Keegan O’Toole — there has been plenty to be satisfied about for this Missouri Tigers fanbase. This athletic department has a lot of momentum going on right now and all of the credit goes to AD Desiree Reed-Francois.
As we look ahead to a hopefully more successful 2024 for Mizzou Athletics, let’s take a look back at the Top 10 plays that made 2023 so memorable.
While the baseball program never made the NCAA Tournament under previous head coach Steve Bieser, there were still some successful moments. This was definitely one of them, as Columbia, MO native and Nebraska transfer Cam Chick’s last at-bat at Taylor Stadium was a walk-off to complete a sweep over the Georgia Bulldogs to essentially clinch a spot at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.
Mizzou Softball was “on the bubble” heading into their final regular season series against 12th ranked Arkansas in a series that the Tigers needed to take two out of three. Missouri lost the opener 9-0, making Saturday and Sunday’s games crucial for their postseason credentials.
Sophomore Kara Daly stepped up in a huge way as she hit back-to-back walk-off home runs. A huge reason why the team was able to make a 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Just like men’s hoops with Dennis Gates, Mizzou Volleyball made some noise this season under first-year head coach Dawn Sullivan as the Tigers made the NCAA Tournament in her year one.
In a five-set win over Georgia on November 5th, St. Louis native and junior right-side hitter Jordan Illiff had a career-high 22 kills. Missouri’s win over the Bulldogs was the second of a four-game winning streak, their longest of SEC play — propelling them to an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
The last 28 seconds of the Mizzou-Mississippi State game...— Mark Kim (@MarkJKim_) February 22, 2023
- Miss. State go-ahead bucket
- Nick Honor three for lead
- Mizzou wins it with a stop
Can't believe we win these games now. pic.twitter.com/HhqDqGdeNs
After back-to-back losses against Auburn and Texas A&M, Missouri was in a position where they needed to stop their losing skid to be a surefire NCAA Tournament team. It didn’t come easy against a Mississippi State team led by Tolu Smith, but the Tigers got the job done. It took more than 40 minutes, but this game-winner in overtime from Nick Honor was perhaps a season saver that started a five-game winning streak.
Mizzou gymnastics is becoming a national power under head coach Shannon Welker, and this highlight by Jocelyn Moore against Auburn is one of the many reasons why. A perfect 10 on the vault is incredibly impressive.
Moore is entering her junior season as this Tigers’ gymnastics squad is primed for another great year.
Not one, but two buzzer beaters on the season from DeAndre Gholston (UCF happened in 2022). From many of the resume-building wins that led to an NCAA Tournament appearance in year one under Dennis Gates, this was certainly the biggest statement win of them all — and you can’t get any more clutch than this from Gholston.
Not many teams go into Thompson-Bowling Arena and beat the Volunteers, but Mizzou has had their number recently.
Since the start of the 2020-2021 season, Tennessee has a 40-5 record at home. Two of those losses have come against #Mizzou.— Sammy Stava (@StavaonSTL) February 12, 2023
Missouri went on to beat Tennessee again in the SEC Tournament in Nashville, advancing to the SEC Tournament Semifinals for the first time in program history.
This is what really jumpstarted a special season for Mizzou Football. A win over No. 15 Kansas State on a walk-off field goal in regulation. An SEC record 61 yards from Harrison Mevis with the fans storming the field afterwards. What a Saturday it was in Columbia.
Down 14-0 on the road early in the 2nd quarter at Kentucky, Missouri desperately needed a momentum-changing play — and they got it from one of the most unlikely candidates. Backup punter Luke Bauer to freshman Marquise Johnson for six. Sure, why not?
That key play started the 20-0 run, and the Tigers outscored the Wildcats 38-7 since.
It’s fair question to ask: If this play doesn’t happen, where does Mizzou’s season go from there?
No. 2: Keegan O’Toole wins individual National Championship against Iowa State’s No. 1 seed David Carr at 165 pounds
0-2 in his previous two matches against top-seed and unbeaten David Carr, the National Championship match for Keegan O’Toole presented quite the challenge. However, O’Toole prevailed in the matchup that mattered the most as he dominated in a 8-2 victory, becoming a two-time National Champion.
At 165 pounds, it was Mizzou’s first National Championship from that weight class since J’den Cox in 2017:
Mizzou Wrestling is currently 5-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country, and much of their success is obviously due to Keegan O’Toole — who is now in his junior season.
No. 1: 4th and 17
MISSOURI CONVERTS IT ON FOURTH AND SEVENTEEN pic.twitter.com/fAYJHfIZqI— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthew_CFB) November 19, 2023
“4th down, got to have it, and he gets it!” — Joe Tessitore on ESPN. This is what saved Mizzou Football’s season and kept their New Year’s Six Bowl hopes alive. On this play, the St. Louis connection from Brady Cook to Luther Burden on primetime national television could do wonders for in-state recruiting. Simply put, if Mizzou doesn’t convert on this play — there’s no NY6 Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State for the Tigers.
Honorable Mention: Cam Chick’s diving catch vs Florida
When Mizzou Baseball gets a shoutout on the MLB YouTube page it’s deserving of a mention. Unfortunately, the Tigers got swept in a crucial road series against Florida, but this was still a heck of a catch made in left field by Cam Chick.
What a year it has been for Mizzou Athletics. We’re on to 2024. Plenty more year-end coverage to come here on Rock M Nation.