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Is Mizzou Football a CFP contender in 2024? Journalists think so

If you go by early projections from college football writers, Mizzou is an early favorite to break into the 12-team CFP.

Abilene Christian v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Mizzou football fans got a taste of the big time in 2023, as their Tigers surged to an amazing 11-2 season and a No. 8 final ranking. By all measurements, Eliah Drinkwitz and Company tuned in one of the five best seasons in the program’s last 50 years.

The Tigers essentially came out of nowhere in 2023, at least in terms of external expectations, which included being picked 13th in the pre-season. Not 13th in the country, mind you. That would be 13th in the Southeastern Conference. The team’s season mantra — Something to Prove — tapped into the national disrespect, and it worked in glorious fashion.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Missouri vs Ohio State Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We won’t know for quite a while what the 2024 motto will be for the Tigers, but we do know that they’ll be hard-pressed to make the theme about being overlooked. The massive 2023 season turned heads nationally. The respect gained by Mizzou, combined with Drinkwitz’s returning talent pool and prolific hauls in high school recruiting and the transfer portal, means there will be no more sneaking up on anyone.

For the composite ranking, I gathered top-25 predictions for 11 national outlets and assigned 25 points for a No. 1 rank, 24 points for No. 2, 23 points for No. 3, and so on, all the way to one point for being listed at No. 25. That’s a lot of math for a journalism major, but I feel confident that the figures are accurate, and they indicate your 2024 Tigers will start the season highly in the national conscience.

Composite 2024 CFB Top-25 Rankings

Rank Team Conference High Rank Low Rank
Rank Team Conference High Rank Low Rank
1 Georgia SEC 1 1
2 Alabama SEC 2 6
3 Texas SEC 2 7
4 Michigan BIG 10 2 7
5 Oregon BIG 10 2 7
6 Ohio State BIG 10 2 9
7 Ole Miss SEC 4 8
8 Notre Dame Independent 6 14
9 Mizzou SEC 8 21
10 Arizona BIG 12 8 17
11 Penn State BIG 10 9 18
12 LSU SEC 8 20
13 Oklahoma SEC 8 18
14 Tennessee SEC 9 21
15 Clemson ACC 10 21
16 Utah BIG 12 11 19
17 Washington BIG 10 7 21
18 Florida State ACC 10 22
19 Kansas State BIG 12 12 Unranked
20 Oklahoma St. BIG 12 12 25
21 Kansas BIG 12 17 Unranked
22 USC BIG 10 18 Unranked
23 Louisville ACC 16 Unranked
24 NC State ACC 20 Unranked
25 SMU ACC 18 Unranked

The composite rankings list Mizzou at No. 9, well within one of the coveted spots in the upcoming playoff, which would be a watershed achievement for Drinkwitz going into his fifth year prowling the Tigers’ sideline.

Mizzou was ranked in all 11 of the polls, which included the following outlets: Action Network, The Athletic, Athlon Magazine, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Yahoo! Sports, and 24/7 Sports.

The highest ranking for Mizzou was at No. 8 by five of the polls, while the range was pretty tight, with 10 of the 11 polls slotting the Tigers between No. 8 and 14. The outlier was The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel, who ranked Mizzou 21st. Quick diversion: If I was given the chance to guess which national writer would lowball Mizzou, Mandel would be on the top of the list. He never seemed to take the Tigers real seriously in my opinion, from my days behind the wall. But I digress.

On an aside, two prominent Mizzou J-school grads authored polls in this composite, including Dennis Dodd (CBS) and Pat Forde ( Dodd pegged his alma mater at No. 8, while Forde was just one spot lower, at No. 9. Who says there’s an anti-Mizzou bias among our grads?

To no surprise, Georgia is the clear-cut preseason favorite to lead the way, as the Bulldogs were a unanimous No. 1. The new-look SEC is expected to dominate in 2024, with Alabama coming in at No. 2 in the composite rankings, followed closely by league neophyte Texas at No. 3. With Ole Miss at No. 7, Mizzou at No. 9, followed by LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee coming in at No. 12 through 14, respectively, the SEC has a nation-best eight teams in the composite poll.

The Big 10 has six teams included, while the Big 12 and ACC have five each. Notre Dame at No. 8 is the only independent listed, while no Group of 5 schools garnered enough attention to crack the composite top-25. In fact, only Boise State, Liberty and Memphis made any of the polls by the 11 outlets, and each program was mentioned only once. The closest any G5 school got to the top-25 was SMU, who moves to the ACC in 2024 and is no longer a G5 program. The Ponies got enough attention to rank No. 25 overall.

The 2024 season seems a long way over the horizon, but we’ll continue to keep warm during the doldrums of winter knowing the Tigers enter the year firmly in the national conversation, with a puncher’s chance of crashing the first-ever CFP 12-team playoff! There’s a lot that can happen between now and the start of fall camp in August, including the post-spring transfer portal from May 1-15, as well as continued coaching carousel shenanigans, so it should undoubtedly be fun to track.

Until then, here’s to a fun (and hopefully uneventful) offseason!