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Oh, you thought because of the headline that the soundtrack for this week would be “Return of the Mack”? My friend, you thought wrong.

To his credit, Harrison Mevis seems to have maintained his confidence despite the struggles that have plagued him through the end of the 2022 season and into 2023. You can point to his early-game miss against Kansas State as an example of those continuing yips, but he did appear to have his confidence back, all the way through his monster, record-breaking kick.

The demise of the Thiccer was greatly exaggerated. Harrison Mevis continues to put numbers on the board.

The Revue

You’re gonna need a bigger lead...

On May 2, 1974, the cast and crew of Jaws began principal photography on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

For 159 days, just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Shooting on the ocean led to frequent bouts of seasickness for actors and water damage for cameras. Rogue boats would drift in and out of important shots. Sunburn would lead to anger, anger would lead to envy, envy would lead grudges, compounded by absentee members with tax troubles. The film’s namesake didn’t even work as it was supposed to, but what else would you expect from a film production whose initial plan was, “I don’t know, train a great white shark to act for the camera?”

Maybe you weren’t aware of how chaotic and troubled the production of Jaws was. And why would you? Does it matter to you that the film went $5 million over budget on an initial quote of $4 million? Do you care that Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw didn’t get along because Shaw was jealous of good reviews Dreufuss received on another film? Can you be bothered by the fact that Steven Spielberg admitted he was in over his head and the crew called the movie Flaws before it was ever released?

Or do you just care that Jaws kicks gigatons of ass to this very day?

I see Eli Drinkwitz’s tenure at Mizzou, specifically as it relates to Mizzou’s monumental 30-27 win over Kansas State, as something akin to the production of Jaws. It’s been chaotic, in some good ways, but in quite a few bad ways. Drinkwitz, like Spielberg, was a young guy with a lot of energy who, quite frankly, has looked a little lost. He’s had to rewrite the script on the fly multiple times. And his big mechanical sharks — aka, the blue-chip recruits he’s brought in — haven’t worked half the time.

But maybe all of that chaos created something more sinisterly beautiful by necessity. Maybe the hard won lessons of constantly shooting yourself in the foot have hardened this Missouri roster into knowing how to utilize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Maybe going from zero to hero in year two wasn’t the best case scenario for Drinkwitz and his program. Maybe things needed that extra time to simmer and stew and come out richer than they would have two years ago.

Maybe it’s OK that we haven’t seen the shark up to this point. Because we all remember the first time we saw the shark in Jaws.

That’s sort of how I felt when I finally realized Mizzou Football could be good again.

★★★★★ for the win over Kansas State, ★★★★★ for Jaws. If you argue with me, you’re wrong.

Watchability Meter

I don’t think I’m reaching too much when I say that, outcome aside, Mizzou vs. Kansas State was a hell of a game. Maybe the best in college football this weekend (aside from the Colorado vs. Colorado State heart-pounder).

Of course it feels better on our side of the state line, where the Tigers are celebrating a 3-0 start, the rejuvenation of an offense and a record-setting rocket from our beautiful boy. But even before the game ended, I had the thought: “Damn, this has been an entertaining game.” It would have felt gut-wrenching to lose, of course, but Mizzou played relatively clean, inspired football up until the last drive, when they tried to simultaneously poop and pee and spill their bedside table drink in the bed all at once. There were punches by Kansas State, counterpunches by Mizzou, technical rounds, haymaker rounds... it was, as Nate Edwards pointed out on Twitter, an instant classic of sorts.

That we got to see it capped off with a Mevis Missile was icing on a delicious, Tiger-striped cake. Brady Cook looked the part of an SEC quarterback. The defense, in typical Blake Baker fashion, was swarming. And Luther Burden III? He was doing this:

For playing an entertaining game against a good team and actually winning (!!!), Mizzou gets 5 out of 5 Thiccer Kicker Burgers from Big 12, otherwise known as The Cardiac Crisis.

Thiccer than your arteries after eating one of these!

Disrespectful Play Index

I get that there will be disappointment in the fact I didn’t choose Harrison Mevis’s jaw-dropping cannon shot and the chaos that ensued thereafter for this week’s DPI. There’s obviously plenty of material to analyze, especially in the celebration.

But here’s the thing: I’m committed to this formula. I can’t just make stuff up! I can’t give the defense a 20/20 for standing there and watching an AIM-7 Sparrow fly through the uprights of the north end zone. I can’t celebrate the holder for doing his job and setting up that poor football for the KO punch it was about to take. Hell, I can’t sit here and honestly tell you it was a 20/20 difficulty for Harrison Mevis. Have you seen that man?? He could kick the denim out of blue jeans.

I’m also slightly worried about the law of diminishing returns. Harrison Mevis’ kick is enshrined in the record books. We’re going to be talking about it for years to come. Let’s not overdo it in the first 72 hours, yeah?

Instead, I’m leaning on ole reliable for another quite disrespectful play that happened this week. At this point, I can almost count on one or two contenders from Luther Burden week in and week out, and he didn’t disappoint me in the biggest game of the season.

In case you Drew Barrymore’d yourself and forgot how the categories work...

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)

  • Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play?
More room to roam than a kansas farm

How do we grade Luther Burden fairly at this point? A normal wide receiver and college football fan might see this open field and think, “oh yeah, easy first down.” And that’s justifiable. There’s a solid 10 yards of space separating Burden and the nearest defender. But you have to think that at least one of the two guys headed toward Burden in this moment will be able to cut him off. And that’s not to mention the number of defensive backs not in frame!

But for Luther Burden, I thought, “touchdown” as soon as I saw where he was situated. This particular YAC monster cannot be given this much room to roam. It was over from the moment he got open in the backfield. Give credit to Kirby Moore; it’s a well-designed play. But there aren’t many college wide receivers who could hit pay dirt from this situation, even with all the space he’s given. 18/20

  • Category 2: How hard did the defense try?
Brother said, “ope!”

I’m of two minds here, and you have to watch the replay to understand why.

For one thing, sophomore safety VJ Payne gives his absolute all to bring Burden down here and still barely gets a finger on him. If you watch, Burden gives him the slightest of shoves and Payne hits the dirt harder than a grocery sack holding a watermelon. I don’t think I appreciated how many times defenders end up sliding face first in the turf until I started this segment last season, but Luther Burden always leaves at least one dude in the mud.

Still, I can’t ignore the fact that senior linebacker Daniel Green, also in pursuit at this point, simply quits after Burden crosses the 20. It’s the most demoralized I’ve ever seen a defender who is within a yard of the guy he’s chasing. Green pulls up like he’s finishing a sprint at practice, knowing his chances of catching LB3 have passed him by faster than his four-year college football career (not being mean, just wistful).

Payne goes all out, and I have to award him points for that. But do I dock Green points for dogging it? Or do I just acknowledge that he made a business decision. He’s not pulling his hammy trying to catch a guy that just put his teammate in an early grave. I get it, man. I’d probably do the same thing. 18/20

  • Category 3: How much did his teammates help?
Pinning his man harder than a #TigerStyle dual, heyo

Look at that block from Tyler Stephens. A thing of absolute beauty. Sorry, Luther, but I can’t give you high marks across the categories. 1/5

  • Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?

Luther Burden is a bit of a showman, as he has every right to be. He’s always got some smooth footwork after a touchdown, and he demonstrated that at the back of the end zone this time. Theo Wease Jr. and a few other guys joined in.

I’m more interested in the celebration after the celebration, when LB3 engaged his inner dawg.

The primal scream of a predator conquering his prey
Getting goofy with it

I’ve never seen Burden act quite like that and, by extension, like he did after the game (more on that later.) He was like a man possessed after this touchdown and, frankly, I loved to see hit. His passion for Mizzou is growing by the week. I won’t give him a perfect score because it’s not entirely unique, but I have a hard time not loving his enthusiasm. 19/20

  • Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
Brady got a little fire in him, must be the red hair

I mentioned that Theo Wease and a few other guys (I see you, Nathaniel Peat) got involved with the cellies. Brady Cook had an impressive celly day in his own right and joined Luther for a little mean-mugging at the end of this play. It’s cool to see these guys so fired up for each other. There’s real belief in this locker room, and it’s showing on the field. 12/15

  • Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?

I mentioned this in the MV3 post for this week, but I think we can officially say that Luther Burden III has arrived. This may not be the most high profile game he’s played in his short Mizzou career, but it’s almost certainly a confirmation of the leap he’s taken between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

We spent so much time this summer talking about if Burden could take the same leap that Dominic Lovett had last year and what that would mean for the Tigers offense. We’ve seen it in action for three weeks now, including against a good Kansas State defense. When Luther Burden is touching the ball, he’s dangerous. When he’s touching the ball in space, he’s deadly. If Kirby Moore can continue to find ways to get him those crucial touches, he’ll make anybody and everybody pay.

It may be a bit disingenuous to call his star performance against Kansas State a coming out party, but it’s certainly an announcement of his rise on a big stage. 19/20

Luther Burden’s touchdown catch was 87 percent disrespectful to Kansas State.

Superlatives and Awards

Winner winner thiccer dinner

Best Prospective NIL Deal

Ty’Ron Hopper has already been celebrated for his multi-faceted performance against the Wildcats, where he notched eight tackles, including one for a loss, two passes defended and countless havoc creations. The Reese’s Senior Bowl saw it fit to give him the Defensive Player of the Week award, and that would be a perfectly fine NIL link up in its own right.

But I think we need to think harder about the type of day Hopper logged. Hopper, unlike last season when he was mostly a chaos agent, looked more self-assured holding down the middle of the defense. This is especially impressive given the slow return of Chad Bailey, who’s working his way back from an early season injury. Hopper was everywhere against the Wildcats, and I think his NIL deals need to signify that versatility. I’ve got a few ideas.

  • Maybe link up with some ride-sharing apps or a local taxi service? “For when you need to be anywhere and everywhere, like Ty’Ron Hopper”
  • He can be the face of the long rumored bullet train from KC to STL? “When you need to get somewhere fast
  • We could also just zero in on Jimmy John’s and their “Freaky Fast” branding.

The Himothy Award for Most “Him” Performance

Apologies to Harrison Mevis, Brady Cook, Luther Burden, Daylan Carnell, Kirby Moore and everyone else who contributed to Saturday’s massive win... but can we talk about Mike Kelly for a second?

I will contend that, when the stakes are high, there may be no one better in the country calling a game-winner. It’s been a great year to be a Mike Kelly stan, between this and “BANG! BANG! AT THE BUZZER!” and I can only imagine where he’s going to go from here if Mizzou ends up being as good as we hope they could be.

Best Meme Award

This is my official power ranking of the Harpo’s memes that featured directly following the game-winner.

  1. Eric Andre’s “LET ME IN” is my favorite meme format, and this is a pitch perfect application.

2. Capturing the hubris of Howie Ratner, Harpo’s nailed the “This is how I win” reference.

3. I don’t think this one makes a ton of sense, but the juxtaposition of the caption and the Image tickled me for whatever reason.