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Mizzou Won 11 Games. Let’s Rank ‘Em.

The Tigers just finished an incredible campaign, reaching and winning a New Year’s Six Bowl for the first time ever. We are not yet done savoring it.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Kansas State at Missouri

How long will the statute of limitations run for navel-gazing on Missouri’s amazing 2023 season? Hopefully it has not expired yet.

Because 2023 was perfect for fan enjoyment: preseason expectations called for the Tigers to be a middle-of-the-pack SEC team. They wildly exceeded the prognostications, and the only two losses were both competitive games against the Heisman winner and the reigning champs. Week in and week out, the Tigers rose to the occasion and delivered in the win column, or at least acquitted themselves.

There were no flameouts here, no catastrophes, no eggs laid, no meltdowns. No refereeing disaster against Kentucky nor a comeback allowed to a backup quarterback. It was storybook, start to finish.

Soon we will turn the page and get locked in on spring ball, and then 2024 previews. But we can still relish in this incredible season for a little longer, yeah? With that in mind, I am going to rank all 11 of Missouri’s 2023 wins. This exercise will be entirely subjective and vibes-based; I would love to hear which game was your favorite, and why. Let’s live in the recent past, shall we?

11.) Week 2: Missouri 23, Middle Tennessee State 19

Opponent SP+ rank: 101st, Postgame Win Expectancy: 96%

If there can be such a thing as a bad win, this was it. Missouri was unimpressive on both sides of the ball in escaping a middling Middle team that had given the program fits before. Clamors to see the new and improved offense reached a critical mass after this slog.

10.) Week 1: Missouri 35, South Dakota 10

Opponent SP+ rank: 9th (FCS), Postgame Win Expectancy: 100%

In the Thursday night season opener, Mizzou took care of business against one of the better FCS teams this season. Golf claps all around.

South Dakota v Missouri
Luther Burden caught a touchdown amongst his seven catches for 96 yards as Mizzou dispatched South Dakota 35-10.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

9.) Week 8: Missouri 34, South Carolina 12

Opponent SP+ rank: 51st, Postgame Win Expectancy: 100%

Beating Shane Beamer and his Ponzi scheme program is always fun, but this game was just too ho-hum to rank any higher. Missouri’s dominance on both lines made it clear early that the game would never be a contest. Beamer chose to settle for long field goals to keep the score respectable, and Drinkwitz was more than happy to oblige to get to the bye week sooner. If they could have gone to a running clock, they might have.

8.) Week 5: Missouri 38, Vanderbilt 21

Opponent SP+ rank: 110th, Postgame Win Expectancy: 99%

This was a fun win because Missouri showcased its new-found passing game. Cook threw for 395 yards and four scores, including a pair to Luther Burden. Vanderbilt connected on a couple of big pass plays of their own to keep the score within shouting distance, but this was never in doubt. Lesser Missouri teams have struggled to dispatch Vanderbilt before, so the Tigers offered more evidence to their status as an SEC challenger.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Missouri at Vanderbilt
Brady Cook’s big day made Mizzou’s win at Vanderbilt a thing of certainty.

7.) Week 4: Missouri 34, Memphis 27

Opponent SP+ rank: 54th, Postgame Win Expectancy: 100%

Was the new downfield passing attack — unveiled the previous week against K-State — a bespoke playbook for that matchup, or had the Tigers finally turned the page on offense? Heading into this game, we truly did not know the answer. Memphis’s accommodating defense showed it was the latter. Mizzou players from St Louis had a big game in a homecoming of sorts under The Arch.

6.) Week 7: Missouri 38, Kentucky 21

Opponent SP+ rank: 22nd, Postgame Win Expectancy: 64%

This game featured two tremendous moments: the fake punt touchdown pass to Marquis Johnson is one of the highlights of the season, and the Tigers’ 13-0 run in the middle eight — the four minutes immediately before and after halftime — was euphoric. Otherwise this game was a slog. The first quarter was arguably as poor as the team played all season, and the second half was a snooze as Kentucky failed to mount any real challenge.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Missouri at Kentucky
Darius Robinson had six tackles and two sacks as Mizzou stifled Kentucky in Lexington.
Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

5.) Week 13: Missouri 48, Arkansas 14

Opponent SP+ rank: 55th, Postgame Win Expectancy: 100%

The trip to Arkansas turned into a four hour holiday celebration, as the Tigers roasted the Hogs. The result was never in doubt, and Mizzou steamrolled their way into a New Year’s Six Bowl. Cody Schrader put a cap on his incredible November with a dominant 217-yard effort.

If this had been earlier in the season, it would rank lower, as it was a total laugher. Case in point: in my notebook the following Monday, I didn’t even write about the game at all. But because it was the finale, it was a coronation. The 2007 and 2013 Cotton Bowl teams ended their regular seasons in dramatic, hair-raising fashion, while this squad finished their year with a drubbing.

INTERMISSION: You could make a case for any of the next top four to be number one. If you like dominant wins; if you like a cardiac comeback. If you value bowls; if you value senior night. If you love beating our old Big 12 rivals, or love beating the SEC powers.

4.) Week 12: Missouri 33, Florida 31

Opponent SP+ rank: 41st. Postgame Win Expectancy: 67

Missouri escaped with a brilliant win on senior night against Florida. A pair of emotional games (loss at Georgia, revenge vs Tennessee) left the Tigers drained, and Florida’s physical rushing attack capitalized. Then Brady cooked up some magic with Luther Burden, and Mevis did his game-winning thing. Regardless of where this ranks in your own heart, it gave us two of the most indelible images of the season: Cook celebrating in front of the Faurot student section, and Darius Robinson taking the field with “Mizzou” as his uniform nameplate.

3.) Cotton Bowl: Missouri 14, Ohio State 3

Opponent SP+ rank: 4th, Postgame Win Expectancy: 96%

Only three miserable quarters of offensive football keep this from #1. Only. By beating the Buckeyes, the Tigers broke a long bowl losing streak, earned Eli Drinkwitz the first bowl win of his career, and earned the program’s first New Year’s Six win. They capped a magical season with a magical fourth quarter, one that the fans will remember for ages.

Mizzou’s magical season ended in Cotton Bowl glory.
Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

2.) Week 11: Missouri 36, Tennessee 7

Opponent SP+ rank: 15th, Postgame Win Expectancy: 99%

Oh my god, this win was so good. After two seasons of getting absolutely wrecked by Josh Heupel’s veer-and-shoot offense and one week after losing to Georgia, Missouri rebounded to clobber the Volunteers in the “we stand on business” game. The Tigers worked Tennessee; when the Volunteers got the ball back with 2:32 left in the game, Cody Schrader had more yards from scrimmage than the entire Vols team. Tennessee was dismantled piece-by-piece, and it was glorious.

1.) Week 3: Missouri 30, Kansas State 27

Opponent SP+ rank: 14th, Postgame Win Expectancy: 87%

This was as good as it gets. A revenge game against a regional rival. A statement game, about the quality of this year’s Tiger outfit, as well as a statement game about Kirby Moore’s new playbook. A historic, record-breaking play to win the game, which was exciting and well-played, a back-and-forth affair between two top-15 teams. Both Luther Burden’s opening touchdown catch and Harrison Mevis’ game-winning bomb are on the list of best and most important plays from the season. Truly, without this win the rest of the dominos do not fall the same way. Even entering this game, the stakes were plainly obvious: the season, and Eli Drinkwitz’s tenure, would be defined this day in Columbia. The team – and Mevis’ prodigious right leg – made sure it would be a triumphant one.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Kansas State at Missouri
No one had a bigger moment in 2023 than Harrison Mevis, who kicked an SEC-record field goal to take down Kansas State on home turf.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images