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The Revue: Mizzou slogs through Ohio State to Cotton Bowl glory

“I have a special set of skills...”

Mizzou drove down to the Longhorn State and picked up a New Year’s Six bowl victory, so you know we have to shout out some hip-hop from the south. There are some great spitters from the Houston area, but my favorite has to be Tobe Nwigwe. He hasn’t been nearly as prolific as some of his contemporaries, but no one — and I repeat with emphasis, no one — drops bars harder than the former North Texas linebacker... or his wife!

Mizzou ate against Ohio State — on offense and defense! So let these beats, along with the memories of the 2023 season, envelop you as we brave out the rest of the winter months.

The Revue

Truman Neeson is coming for your B-movie box office

I, like I suspect many of you reading this, am a big fan of what I like to call “Neeson-core.”

Liam Neeson, our most beguilingly rugged Irishman, is one of the great treasures of 20th and 21st century cinema. An actor of Shakespearean quality — literally! — Neeson spent the better part of the 1990’s and early 2000’s as one of the more serviceable actors in the “historical figure with vaguely European accent” field. Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, Les Misérables, Gangs of New York, Kinsey... Neeson’s early-mid career oeuvre was stocked to the brim with complicated men.

Then 2008 happened. And, oh boy, it happened.

Taken is just about as hard of a reset (rejuvenation?) to a career as I’ve seen in my 30 years. You can see shades of where Neeson is going in Batman Begins three years earlier, but even that didn’t fully suggest the all-encompassing “grey, grizzled bulldozer” vibe Neeson would take on starting with Taken. So begins Neeson-core.

I see Neeson-core as having three core components.

1. Protagonist is an aging family man with a good heart and a complicated home life.

2. Protagonist is cast as a laboring everyman with “skills” that are either hidden or unlocked by extraordinary circumstances.

3. Middling action sequences setting up a rousing, memorable climactic action set piece.

Taken, Taken 2, Taken 3, Non-Stop, The Commuter, Ice Road, Cold Pursuit, A Walk Among Tombstones... and that’s just scratching the surface. Neeson-core is one of our most profitable sub-genres, cranking out annual offerings that are never awful and sometimes quite good.

But why have I just spent 266 words unpacking the basics and history of Neeson-core to you? If you’re a regular reader of The Revue, you already know!

Mizzou’s 14-3 Cotton Bowl victory was prime Neeson-core. I’m surprised Daylan Carnell didn’t remove his helmet at one point and reveal he’d been a 71-year-old Ballymenan the whole time!

Don’t believe me? Let’s follow the formula:

1. Mizzou is a lovable program if you ask me. They’ve got some history all over the country. They’ve been good enough historically to be relevant but not so good that you could get tired of them. They let the little guys win enough to be the everyman and they don’t beat the big guys enough to be considered a threat.

But there are complications. They seemed to be hitting their stride in 2013 and 2014 before the convergence of real life events stunted the program in 2015. Ever since it’s been a slog to get back to the excellence fans had gotten used to.

2. Mizzou is no sleeping giant, but they have the tools to be a threat when they need to be. St. Louis is a hot bed of high-end talent and Kansas City has long been a coal mine producing plenty of diamonds in the rough. They’ve got ties to talent rich areas across the country (Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, etc.) They’ve got the money to bankroll big names. And they’ve got the pedigree to point to — not many programs are regularly putting guys in the NFL and getting them steady paychecks. And when the stars align, like they did in 2023, something special can happen.

3. The Cotton Bowl was mostly a slog with a high-octane finish. Be honest, even Blake Baker’s hair-raising defensive strategy got old after a while. Sure, it’s fun to see Triston Newson blow up an Ohio State offensive lineman. Yeah, it’s enjoyable to see Johnny Walker, Jr. run through Lincoln Kieholz like a freight train. But we didn’t come to the New Year’s Six to see a 3-0 rock fight. We wanted to see some fireworks. And we had to wait until the final 25 percent of the story to get some.

Mizzou’s fourth quarter was a thing of beauty, a combination of explosiveness, efficiency and dominance that rivaled any performance they put up in the 12 games prior. Want to see Brady Cook hit a streaking wide receiver? Theo Wease, Jr. and Marquis Johnson have got you. Want to see the Tigers grind out successful standard downs? Cody Schrader, take a bow. Want to see some blue-chip Big 10 defensive linemen get devoured and pancaked? Xavier Delgado, eat your heart out.

The fourth quarter of Mizzou’s win was a thing of mastery, a hard-earned finish to a sluggish story. Sounds like Neeson-core to me.

So as you go back to rewatch the Cotton Bowl highlights, as I’m sure you will at least a few dozen times before Murray State comes to town on August 31, get creative and think about where Liam Neeson could fit in. The answer is, of course, anywhere so long as he’s in black-and-gold. After all, Neeson-core never ends in defeat. What is this, Sean-Bean-core?

★★★★☆ for the Cotton Bowl win, and ★★★★☆ for Neeson-core on the whole. I’m still waiting for The Commuter 2, Liam, where’s The Commuter 2?!

Watchability Meter

We have to be honest with ourselves, even if we’re glad with the way things turned out: that game was a slog. A real watching-grass-grow-ass game. That is, unless you absolutely love defense. So I guess in that sense, it was actually great?

It sort of reminded me of the 2014 Cotton Bowl, at least in a small way. In that game, Mizzou and Oklahoma State, two of the nation’s premier offenses, spent three full quarters feeling each other out before they exploded in that memorable back-and-forth final frame. There wasn’t nearly as much excitement this time around, but the final 15 minutes featured the closest thing to a breakthrough we were going to see against this Ohio State defense. There were a few explosive plays, some big celebrations, the whole shebang.

But that’s not the reason I’m giving this game 5/5 on the watchability meter. No, the reason I’m doing that is because it was borderline erotic to watch Mizzou put a blue-blood in a chokehold like they did for 60 minutes. It’s not as if the Tigers dominated, but Ohio State accomplished jack shit on the offensive side of the ball. And let me tell you: I quite enjoyed that, even if it wasn’t the most exciting brand of football in the world.

Oh, wait, am I supposed to care that Ohio State was down to its third string quarterback and was playing without its Heisman finalist wide receiver? Because I don’t. Maybe don’t run your starter out of town right after the season, Ryan Day, have you tried that? We did, and it worked out.

Cotton Bowl Classic Offensive MVP Brady Cook, reporting for duty
Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

For throttling one of the country’s best offenses and eventually finding the needed breakthrough on offense, Mizzou gets five packages of Just For Men’s Real Black Mustache and Beard dye. Contractually, they have to take it from Ryan Day’s stash, which means he’ll only have 1,995 packages left to use.

How long do you think this lasts Ryan Day? I say two weeks.

Disrespectful Play Index

Be honest, you can’t think of much that would fit here, huh? Maybe some of the more vicious QB hits could be the DPI winner, but that would be somewhat out of character.

Luckily, our main man is here to deliver as always. Luther Burden III is the most disrespectful player Mizzou has had in a good long while, and I’m grateful he’ll be back in 2024 for another year of DPI inspiration.

As a reminder, here’s the rubric we’re working with.

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 think my first reaction to this play was the same as everyone else: general amazement.

Brady Cook has taken huge strides as a passer this year, and this may not have even been his best throw of the game. But I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I remember that Mizzou has a QB that can make this throw.


That’s not threading the needle. That’s splitting an atom. Burden runs a great route for sure, but Brady Cook couldn’t throw a more perfect pass in that situation if he tried. 20/20

  • Category 2: How hard did the defense try?

Ohio State’s defense made things difficult all night. And even though they eventually broke under the weight of Mizzou’s explosiveness and red zone efficiency, they didn’t make it all that easy in those situations either. Their line didn’t get any pressure on Cook in this instance, but blue-chip sophomore Sonny Styles was in near-perfect position to breakup or intercept this pass. He was inches, maybe centimeters, from preventing this touchdown. And maaaaaaaaaan you can tell he wanted to.

It’s a bird! It’s a plan! No... it’s former five-star recruit Sonny Styles!

Styles goes full Superman to get that ball. Respect, because he takes a hard landing after this. All to watch Luther Burden III strut all over his university’s name. Tough scenes. 20/20

  • Category 3: How much did his teammates help?

It wasn’t exactly a banner night for Mizzou’s offensive line, but this is the definition of showing up when it matters most. With the opportunity to ice the game on the line, the line kept the pocket so clean for Brady Cook, who put it through a keyhole for Luther Burden. Its not great for the overall score, but Cook doesn’t make that throw if there’s anyone near him. Major kudos to the line (and Cody Schrader, of course, in support.) 2/5

Brady Cook could host a Sugarfire BBQ with all that space!
  • Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?

Who’s the most famous person you associate with Ohio State? Chances are that you, like me, think of someone who didn’t even attend The Ohio State University: Lebron James.

James has been an outspoken proponent of the Buckeyes since his days as a young NBA star and it seems likely he at least checked into this game at some point. What do you think the chances are that he saw young star Luther Burden III hit his signature celebration?


Burden had a frustrating night, staying mostly bottled up by Ohio State’s elite secondary and Brady Cook’s lack of rhythm. But once the offense got going, it felt inevitable that LB3 would get his. And get his the young king did. 19/20

Sharing the love, All-American style
  • Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?

Burden was surrounded by his teammates, who did a mob celebration to the adoring Mizzou fans. But I think it’s worth pointing out that Brady Cook has clearly been working on his own celebration.

Thanks to Brady Cook’s uncle for helping him with his technique. This is much better.

Look at that! We’ve gone from messily whisking eggs to stirring an entire ass pot! What’s next, a StandMixer? 11/15

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

Obviously this was the moment where Mizzou’s victory started to feel inevitable. But it was also something of a cathartic release for this offense. Being held to one score in three-and-a-half quarters is not what they’ve been used to in 2023, so I have to imagine it felt great to break through for the second time in the quarter. At least, that’s the impression I got watching all of them liberally celebrate. 13/20

Luther Burden III’s touchdown catch was 85 percent disrespectful to Ohio State.

Superlatives and Awards

Best Prospective NIL Deal

Brady Cook doesn’t need another NIL deal seeing as he’s already pretty set with St. Louis based chain restaurants. But given that the Cotton Bowl was maybe his most impactful dual-threat performance as a Tiger, I wonder if we can get him in league with El Paso, aka the creators of the “Porque no los dos? commercial!

Elite scrambling ability and above average passing? Brady Cook is both the hard and soft shell tortilla of college quarterbacks!

The Himothy Award for Most “Him” Performance

This is really just a plug for y’all to read the last MV3 of the season, but I have to give this to Daylan Carnell. Lincoln Kieholz is going to see Carnell in flashbacks for the rest of his life.

Day”him” Carnell
Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

Best Meme Award

It was tough to parse through the wealth of Ohio State fans calling for Ryan Day’s head, but don’t worry... we found some material to work with.

First up is an old meme format, but one that provides a little flavor to the “Ohio State can’t beat a Block M” observational humor.

To be honest, I think Day might have been even more confused than this kid.

Next up is one that I’m sure has made the rounds before. But it’s my first time seeing it in the wild, and I gotta say... I’m for it.

“Could somebody PLEASE get this man a Z-O-U?!”

Finally, I gift you the face of Lou Holtz staring coldly, emptily into your eyes.

Do you think he remembers calling Ohio State soft? I don’t think he does.