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Important winning numbers from Mizzou’s victory over Kansas State

There’s a lot to be happy about following Saturday’s result and that goes for all three phases of the game.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri football made a statement on Saturday with a thrilling 30-27 last second victory over No. 15 Kansas State. I will always say statistics aren’t everything, but they can help tell and explain why a game went the way it did. It perhaps was the biggest win of the Eli Drinkwitz era, so let’s take a look at four numbers that contributed to Missouri moving to 3-0 for the first time since 2018.

1 Turnover

Missouri needed a turnover, and at some point, it was coming. Through the first two weeks of the 2023 season, the Tigers uncharacteristically forced a grand total of zero. That changed on Saturday afternoon.

Eli Drinkwitz, leading up to the K-State game, talked about how the Tigers’ defense needed to put the Wildcats in third-down scenarios and get off the field. That idea came to fruition on the second offensive drive by K-State. Facing a long 3rd and 10, Will Howard, evading a six-man blitz by the Death Row Defense, threw a pass right into the hands of Kris Abrams-Draine for the first turnover of the season for MU.

How important was Abrams-Draine’s interception? Missouri defeated Kansas State by three points. How many points did the Tigers accumulate on the drive following the pick? Three.

61 Yards

There’s always been this saying that Missouri doesn’t belong in the SEC. Well, its kicker belongs at the top of the list for the longest-made field goal in Southeastern Conference history. A conference that has had Blair Walsh, Daniel Carlson, Ryan Succop, none of those guys have boomed a field goal farther than what Mevis did on Saturday afternoon.

“I think it’s pretty cool. I honestly didn’t know that. It’s pretty cool,” said Mevis shortly after the game. “But what I think is better is this team has chance to go 4-0 next week. That’s exciting.”

Mevis’ kick is undoubtedly the best ever in Mizzou history considering the strength of opponent, time remaining and the length of the kick. When all is said and done, Mevis will arguably be remembered as the greatest kicker in Tigers history along with Jeff Wolfert. He’s a field goal away from tying Andrew Bagget’s program record 66. Most importantly, his kick against the Wildcats sailed into the cursed north end zone, giving a memorable call by Mike Kelly.

18 receptions

That’s the total number of receptions by Missouri’s wide receiver core. We’ll touch on the distributor of those passes in a second. In a short sample size of three games, Saturday was the best offensive game plan Kirby Moore has put together for this Tiger offense, resulting in a great distribution of the football.

Coming into the game, wide receivers on the roster not named Luther Burden III combined for nine receptions through two games. On Saturday, excluding Burden, the ball landed in a wide receivers hands 11 times. Theo Wease Jr. recorded 72 yards on six receptions, while freshman Marquis Johnson hauled in another catch for 42 yards. The second strongest receiving performance came from Mookie Cooper, who on four receptions, gained 79 yards, including a 41-yard catch and run, helping set up Missouri’s second touchdown.

“We got some dudes,” Burden said. “People don’t realize until today like we got some dudes in that room and on this team and everybody you know its just really a build up of everybody, you know, overlook everybody on our team, overlook this program.”

“It felt great, it always feels great to touch the ball,” Cooper said. “We got the dub and to know I played a part of that it makes me feel a whole lot better for sure.”

And of course, the Tigers’ leading wide receiver came away with another impressive performance for the third straight week. Burden finished with 114 yards on seven receptions, the third week in a row where he approached that reception mark.

Both of his touchdowns showed what you want to see in a polished wide receiver as he scored both on the deep ball and the yards after catch department.

Also, nice block by tight end Tyler Stephens on the this second score.

356 passing yards

And of course, we can’t forget the person throwing the football. If an MVP given out after this game, there are two candidates. 1) Harrison Mevis and 2) Brady Cook.

Cook played the best game of his college career following his own fans booing him pregame and while battling through a sprained knee for more than half of the game. The Tigers’ QB tossed a career-high 356 passing yards to highlight his performance. He gave it his all, delivering on the deep throws, using his legs to make something happen, while remaining calm and collected during a game-winning drive. It’s all you can ask from a quarterback, especially one playing for his dream school. His team indeed has rallied behind him, and he wants the fanbase to do the same.

“I hear it, it’s hard...All I do is want to play quarterback here. I would like it if everyone else wanted me to play quarterback here too,” Cook said. “A game like this probably could help so I’m excited about that. It’s really just us in this building. The players, the staff, the coaches, nutritionist, the weight coaches. I mean, these are the people that I’m going to war with, these are the people I fight for and I love Mizzou, too. This is my dream school so this is the dream for me.”

Cook’s start to the 2023 season has been as efficient as it could be. He’s completed 72% of his passes while remaining clean in the interception column and rushing for a score in each game. In fact you have to go back to Oct. 22 against Vanderbilt where he last threw a pick. The level of confidence and growth is surely showing for the second year-starter for the Tigers.