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Missouri Football Season Preview and Game-By-Game Predictions

It’s officially predictions season, and I figured I’d throw my hat into the ring.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Southeast Missouri at Missouri Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Well Mizzou fans, we have made it through another long offseason. We saw a nearly endless quarterback debate, recruiting highs and lows, and plenty of NIL and transfer news to go around. Now, we get back to what this sport is all about: the product on the field.

Following a 6-7 campaign in 2021, Eliah Drinkwitz enters his 3rd year at the helm in Columbia with cautious optimism. The team is now full of guys Drinkwitz recruited himself or have fully bought into his system at this point, and the talent level and depth across the board is the best it has been in years. However, with a schedule that features 8 teams that made a bowl game a season ago, it is still a daunting task to move up in the SEC standings this year.

This is merely my take on what I believe will happen this season, so feel free to berate me (and maybe occasionally agree?) over these picks.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 North Texas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Biggest Questions That Will Need To Be Answered

  1. Will Brady Cook take the next step in his development and keep a hold on the starting job?
  2. Can this offensive line piece things together quick enough to keep Cook upright and maintain a solid rushing attack?
  3. Will the punter position be sorted out, or will it be a weakness? Field position is huge ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not.

Game 1: Vs. Louisiana Tech

Sept. 1st | 7 p.m. | ESPNU

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 3-9

Breakdown: For the second year in a row, Mizzou is going to get a scrappy Group of Five team to open the season. LA Tech had a down year in 2021, which led to head coach Skip Holtz being fired. Enter Sonny Cumbie, who has an immense offensive background at the highest level and is sure to make this program fun to watch. The Bulldogs are generally a contender in the C-USA, and they will not be easily overmatched in the talent or size departments thanks to their southeastern recruiting grounds. This will not be a blowout by any means, but the Tigers’ superior speed will be the difference as Brady Cook has a solid 2022 debut.

Prediction: Mizzou 31 | LA Tech 21

Game MVP: Brady Cook

Game 2: @ Kansas State

Sept. 10 | 11 a.m. | ESPN2

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 8-5

Breakdown: And now we come to the ultimate swing game of the season. Take down the Cats, and Mizzou will enter SEC play with tons of momentum and a quality win in tow. Lose this one, and getting above 6 wins will be a tall order. Beating Kansas State is never easy (just ask Oklahoma), as they are one of the grittier and more disciplined teams in the entire country. This season, on top of their usual identity, the Wildcats have one of the best running backs in the nation in Deuce Vaughn and a team that returns nearly all major contributors from last season. The major question mark is at quarterback, where K-State hopes Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez can come in and put together a complete season. It will be a hostile environment in the Little Apple for this old Big 12 rivalry, and we will find out what this Mizzou team is made of in this game.

On paper, these are fairly equal teams. Veteran defenses, talented skill position talent, and questions at quarterback. Therefore, it is safe to assume that whichever new QB plays better will win the day. This won’t spell the end for Brady Cook, but I think he is out-dueled by Martinez in a close game that comes down to the last couple of drives.

Prediction: Kansas State 27 | Missouri 24

Game MVP: Deuce Vaughn (KSU, RB)

Game 3: Vs. Abilene Christian

Sept. 17 | 11 a.m. | SECN+

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 5-6

Breakdown: Following a tough loss at the hands of Kansas State, Mizzou will be able to take their anger out on some other Wildcats. Abilene Christian is a respectable albeit lackluster FCS program as of late, but they do not have the talent or size to keep pace with Missouri. This team will be motivated to bounce back following a loss, and I believe that we will see an all-around great team performance to get the season back on track.

Prediction: Mizzou 45 | Abilene Christian 13

Game MVP: Elijah Young

Game 4: @ Auburn

September 24th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 6-7

Breakdown: SEC plays opens up for the Tigers in arguably the toughest place to play in the conference. Jordan-Hare Stadium has played host to some classics over the years, and it always seems to be such a daunting environment for the opposition. This is an interesting year for Auburn, as plenty of offseason turmoil accompanied their head coach Bryan Harsin, and there is not a ton of promise for success on the field with what is returning. Still, these Tigers still have the talent to beat nearly any team in the conference, making this a tough task for Mizzou.

I can see this as a make-or-break point for Mizzou, even this early in the season. Both of these teams will have faced a tough non-conference foe before this, so a loss here may take the season off the rails for either side, especially with the schedules that follow. If I may be so bold, I think this is where Brady Cook earns the starting job permanently. He’ll stay hot after the Abilene Christian game and throw for over 300 and 3 TDs against Auburn, linking up with Tauskie Dove, Chance Luper, and Luther Burden downfield all game long. It’ll be a close one, and points will come at a premium, but Missouri will get the quality win they need to gain some respect. Oh yeah, this’ll be the Luther Burden break out game as well.

Prediction: Mizzou 28 | Auburn 20

Game MVP: Luther Burden

Game 5: Vs. Georgia

October 1st

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 14-1

Breakdown: Well, there won’t be a ton of time to celebrate following the Auburn win. Georgia comes to town the following week, and the defending national champs have another team capable of winning it all. Assuming Stetson Bennett takes another step forward as a quarterback and isn’t just throwing interceptions left and right, Georgia will be favored by at least 3 touchdowns. Missouri has pulled off some stunners in this series, but at home they have largely been mauled by the Bulldogs. The Tiger defense will keep them in this game early on, but the physicality of Georgia and some unfortunate turnovers will allow UGA to pull away in the second half for a comfortable win.

Prediction: Georgia 38 | Mizzou 17

Game MVP: Stetson Bennett (UGA, QB)

Game 6: @ Florida

October 8th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 6-7

Breakdown: The Gators are perhaps the biggest mystery in the SEC East this season. Billy Napier has come in from Louisiana and brought with him a lot of hype and success on the recruiting trail. However, most don’t have high hopes for this Gators’ squad in 2022, mostly because of so many positions being unproven. They do have an other-worldly athlete in Anthony Richardson starting at quarterback, and he can single-handedly keep them in some games if he stays healthy.

Mizzou will really be charged with keying in on Richardson and not letting him beat them with his legs. If they can do that, and Cook avoids costly mistakes on the road, then the Tigers can certainly win this game. However, The Swamp is an incredibly tough place to play, and I just can’t see a battered and bruised Missouri squad going in there and coming out with a win. It’ll be a battle from start to finish, but the Gators will get an early leg-up in the standings. Missouri will enter the bye week 3-3.

Prediction: Florida 24 | Missouri 21

Game MVP: Anthony Richardson (UF, QB)

Game 7: Vs. Vanderbilt

October 22nd

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 2-10

Breakdown: There is literally only one gimme-game in the SEC in 2022, and that is against Vanderbilt. The Commodores are steadily improving on the field and on the recruiting trail under head coach Clark Lea, but they are still leaps and bounds behind any other SEC program at nearly every position. Following a bye week and with this game being Homecoming, the Tigers will be rested and energized to take down the ‘Dores for a third straight time. I expect to see a balanced offensive attack and a dominant defensive performance from Missouri in this one as they gear up for the stretch run.

Prediction: Missouri 42 | Vanderbilt 21

Game MVP: Brady Cook

Game 8: @ South Carolina

October 29th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 7-6

Breakdown: This game, to me, is where Mizzou’s season really heats up. 4 out of their final 5 are major swing games, and they will have to come away with one of them to become bowl eligible, two to surpass their win total from 2021. Playing South Carolina for the Mayor’s Cup on Halloween weekend will make for an electric atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium, and Mizzou will have to bring their A game to have a shot at winning. Right alongside Tennessee and Missouri, South Carolina is ahead of schedule in their rebuilding efforts under head coach Shane Beamer, and the addition of former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler this offseason could push them ahead of the other two. I believe he will be one of the better QBs in the SEC this season, and the Gamecocks are a talented bunch that plays everyone tough. Again, if this game is played in Columbia, Missouri, I probably flip this scoreline. SC will grind out a low-scoring victory over the Tigers.

Prediction: South Carolina 20 | Missouri 17

Game MVP: Spencer Rattler (USC, QB)

Game 9: Vs. Kentucky

November 5th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 10-3

Breakdown: Losing to the Gamecocks the previous week will make this game all the more important. Not like Mizzou and their fans will need more motivation for this game, however.

Kentucky is the one team that has consistently ripped the hearts out of Tiger fans’ chests since they joined the conference, and they have another team capable of doing so in 2022. Will Levis is getting a lot of love to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board in 2023, and Mark Stoops (who deserves so much respect for what he’s done in Lexington) has got his program to a point where they can reload at key spots, not just rebuild. The Cats will come in battle-tested and ready to play another close one, but this time, Missouri will get the figurative bounce that allows them to win in the fourth quarter. Much like the Florida game last season, this late season home victory will rally the fan base and team.

Prediction: Missouri 31 | Kentucky 28

Game MVP: Dominic Lovett

Game 10: @ Tennessee

November 12th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 7-6

Breakdown: There’s two angles to this. Mizzou will have revenge on their minds after UT handed them the most embarrassing loss of the 2021 season in Columbia. The Vols could (should*, although they tend to disappoint) be a contender in the SEC East title race at this point, meaning plenty of pressure will be on them to handle the Tigers. Following a hard-fought game at Georgia, I can see Tennessee being sluggish to start this one. However, Neyland Stadium is deafening, especially when UT is exciting to watch, and I again think that a tough road atmosphere will get to the Tigers in the second half. Hendon Hooker and co. will open things up in the final period, and Missouri will not be able to keep pace.

Prediction: Tennessee 35 | Missouri 21

Game MVP: Hendon Hooker (UT, QB)

Game 11: Vs. New Mexico State

November 19th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 2-10

Breakdown: Despite all of the ups and downs, all Mizzou will need to make a bowl game at this point is to take down New Mexico State. And they will do so. The Aggies have one winning season since 2002 and are barely treading water at the FBS level. This should be a cruise control victory where the younger guys get plenty of playing time.

Prediction: Missouri 52 | NMSU 14

Game MVP: Tyler Macon (Yeah, he’ll have himself a day after Cook is benched)

Game 12: Vs. Arkansas

November 26th

Type Of Game: Must-Win | Trap Game | Swing Game | Upset Possibility

2021 Record: 9-4

Breakdown: Isn’t it fitting that on Black Friday, the Battle-Line Rivalry will determine if Mizzou can eclipse their 6 win total from last season? The last time these two met up in Columbia it was a shootout for the ages, and although I don't expect it to have quite that much offense, this will be another good one. Sam Pittman has worked some magic in Fayetteville and has a Top 25-caliber team this season. At this point, they will be as battle-tested as any in the country, so nothing will faze them about this game.

This will be a back-and-forth affair that requires Cook to play his best game of the season, because the running game will be taken away. The Tigers will fight hard, but Arkansas will just be too explosive and will take control of this one late.

Prediction: Arkansas 38 | Missouri 28

Game MVP: KJ Jefferson (Ark, QB)

Missouri v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Season Superlatives

Offensive MVP: Elijah Young (RB)

Defensive MVP: Isaiah McGuire (DE)

Best Game: Vs. Kentucky

Team Floor: 5-7

Team Ceiling: 8-4

Season Prediction: 6-6

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 North Texas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Another regular season will come to an end. The Tigers will clearly be a much improved team on the field during the 2022 season, although they will unfortunately not win more games (not counting postseason play in this). I do believe that Brady Cook will solidify himself as the full-time starter after Week 4, but my more pressing concern resides with the offensive line. If they can't go toe-to-toe with some of these SEC defensive lines (and K-State, for that matter), then Cook will struggle. He’s going to need time to get these talented wideouts the ball. And, with Drinkwitz’s zone running scheme, this offensive line has to be on the same page in order for this rushing attack to maintain its level of play from last season. Balance will be the key for this offense, and it all starts up front.

Defensively, I really believe that this will be a Top 30-40 unit in the country. The D-line is the best and deepest Drinkwitz has had since being in Columbia, as they have pass rushers all over the field. The secondary still has leaders, but we will have to see if both cornerback spots are filled early on, or if there is some musical chairs going on there throughout the season. Linebacker should be solid although Devin Nicholson and Chad Bailey are needed to take steps forward as leaders in that unit.

If I can say anything to Mizzou fans this season, it is this: This is the most talented team Mizzou has fielded since they won the SEC East. They have quality depth at most positions, and they have the athletes and size to really compete week-in and week-out in the SEC.

However, I believe the overarching theme of the season will be finishing in close games. The Tigers will have to win a lot of them, meaning they’ll need clutch quarterback play and big moments from the defense. If they can get that, then 8-9 wins isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Realistically, a couple bounces aren’t going to go their way. That’s why I’ll peg them at 6-6 right now. Finishing 7-6 with a bowl win would be a resounding success in my eyes.

Delicate reminder to stay patient: Missouri’s 2022 recruiting class ranked 6th in the SEC. They had never finished above 12th since joining the conference (Via 24/7 Sports Rankings). Give Drinkwitz time to put another couple classes like this together.