News center
Our products are the epitome of quality and performance.

Mizzou Crystal Ball: Predicting every game in 2023

Aug 23, 2023

Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s annual Crystal Ball series continues today with Missouri. We’ll stay with the SEC East all week. Last week, we predicted every game for every SEC West team.

Previously: Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Mississippi State | Ole Miss | Texas A&M | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky

* * * * * * *

Through 3 years at Mizzou, you can say that Eli Drinkwitz did several things.

He led the Tigers to the postseason each season. He owned the South Carolina rivalry. He signed 18 blue-chip recruits (4-stars or better in 247sports composite).

Through 3 years at Mizzou, you can also say that Drinkwitz failed to do several things.

He hasn’t produced a winning season. He has been owned in the Tennessee rivalry. He has yet to win a bowl game or develop a consistent passing attack.

But heading into Year 4, Drinkwitz has job security in the form of a 2022 contract extension and a buyout that’s estimated to be in the $20 million range. On one hand, Drinkwitz hasn’t taken Mizzou to the upper half of the SEC East. On the other hand, Drinkwitz hasn’t had that disastrous season.

This year, however, feels like as good of a time as any for Drinkwitz to push past mediocrity. His team ranks No. 2 in America in Bill Connelly’s updated percentage of returning production, he locked down his promising defensive coordinator Blake Baker, he has arguably the top returning tackle in the SEC in Javon Foster and he has an offensive play-caller for the first time as a head coach.

So what’ll that yield in 2023? Let’s dig into it:

Drinkwitz couldn’t have been more transparent about his decision to hire an offensive play-caller. He admitted at SEC Media Days that he needed to give up that part of the game and focus elsewhere. Why? It’s not just that his offense finished No. 86 in scoring in its first year without that bell-cow back. Look at these FBS passing game rankings:

That’s not the kind of regression you want to see from your offensive-minded head coach.

As a result, Drinkwitz recognized the need to bring in an offensive play-caller. He hired Fresno State offensive coordinator Kirby Moore. Last season, Moore produced the nation’s No. 27 passing offense, and his unit ranked in the top 1/3 in FBS with 6.0 yards/play. That paved the way for Fresno State’s Mountain West championship.

But let’s be honest. Moore was hired to rejuvenate the passing offense. Whoever starts for Mizzou will have to do something that we really haven’t seen since Drew Lock was in Columbia. That is, make defenses respect the downfield attack. That falls on Moore. It also falls on an intriguing quarterback battle.

Speaking of that …

Drinkwitz said that incumbent starter Brady Cook and former blue-chip recruit Sam Horn will play in the first 2 games. That’s interesting on a couple of levels.

First, Cook was praised for his progression down the stretch, especially once he had more opportunities to use his legs. In those final 3 regular-season games, Cook racked up 315 yards rushing and was responsible for 8 total touchdowns (7 passing, 1 rushing). If that had continued in the bowl game, perhaps there would be a different tone surrounding the quarterback room, and this job would belong to Cook. Instead, he had an inefficient 4.7 yards per passing attempt in what was a lackluster offensive showing against Wake Forest.

Horn, on the other hand, is the guy Mizzou fans have been buzzing about since he committed to Drinkwitz. The 2-sport redshirt freshman had to put on some weight and get more reps in practice because of his baseball-filled springs.

Horn is considered the more talented passer, but obviously, someone without a college completion is a greater unknown than a Year 4 guy like Cook. Even if Cook holds onto his job, we could see a short leash unlike what we’ve seen under Drinkwitz.

Can Cook show enough early improvement with a new play-caller? Or is Horn’s emergence inevitable?

Those first 2 games could set the stage for a defining time in Drinkwitz’s tenure.


Much was made about the arrival of the No. 1 receiver in the 2022 class and his subsequent usage in Mizzou’s offense. Not many sub-6 foot true freshman receivers are playing north of 50 snaps per game from the jump. Burden did. The problem, however, was that the high volume of snaps didn’t always yield a high volume of touches. Burden had 63 scrimmage touches for 463 yards, though he did get into the end zone 8 times.

Since 2012, here’s the list of SEC true freshman wide receivers who had at least 8 touchdowns from scrimmage:

That’s pretty good company. Burden can take another step in his new role as Mizzou’s primary slot receiver. He’ll do so with last year’s leading receiver, Dominic Lovett, off to Georgia after he played 85% of his offensive snaps from the slot.

What will that mean? In theory, more touches for Burden. Last year he occasionally struggled to get separation on the outside, where he lined up on 85% of his offensive snaps. Lovett ranked No. 7 in the SEC with 4.7 catches per game. One would think that as long as the offensive scheme is an upgrade, Burden should get a cut of Lovett’s touches.

The biggest thing with Burden is how he’s able to get the ball and operate in space. If that means him lining up as the wild cat quarterback or a running back like he did 13 times last year, so be it. Ideally, he’ll get more mismatches and, instead of drawing a team’s top corner on the outside, he’ll have more opportunities for chunk plays.

The best version of Burden would be as good of a sight to see as any for Mizzou in 2023.

All aboard the Horn bandwagon! Cook starts, but Horn’s momentum grows by night’s end in a blowout season-opener.

Don’t sleep on a Middle Tennessee team that went into Coral Gables and blew out Miami last year. But the problem for MTSU to pull off another Power 5 road upset is its new-look offense that returns just 15% of its 2022 production. Blake Baker’s defense forces 3 turnovers in a 28-14 Mizzou victory.

Even without Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State should still have a say in the Big 12 title race. Will Howard was excellent down the stretch, and behind a loaded offensive line, Kansas State continues to run the ball at an elite level with Treshaun Ward. Cook, after a promising start, gets a reality check in the second half. A late Cody Schrader touchdown run makes things interesting, but Kansas State’s ground game does the heavy lifting in a 27-14 victory.

This is where Ty’Ron Hopper and that Mizzou defense really flex some muscle. After a tough showing a week earlier, that group bounces back in a big way. Hopper has a strip sack that Ennis Rakestraw Jr. takes the other way for a huge momentum-shifting play early. Touchdown passes to Burden and Mookie Cooper give Mizzou a nice offensive cushion to pick up a win in St. Louis.

Four of the past 5 games in this matchup were decided by single digits. This one makes it 5 out of 6. An up-and-down Mizzou passing attack struggles on the road. Facing a 14-7 halftime deficit, Drinkwitz turns to Horn. That move proves to be a smart one. Horn shows poise on the road while Mizzou’s defense bounces back after allowing 2 chunk plays to AJ Swann in the first half. Vandy can’t put a touchdown drive together late and Mizzou holds on for a 21-17 victory.

Unlike the 2020 game that was moved to Columbia because of Hurricane Delta, the visiting Tigers don’t let it come down to a goal-line play in the final seconds. Mizzou struggles with the mobility of Jayden Daniels, and Logan Diggs has his first real breakout game after arriving from Notre Dame in the post-spring transfer portal window. A week after it was on its heels for much of the day against Ole Miss, LSU’s front 7 overpowers Mizzou’s offensive line and lives in the backfield. An ugly, low-scoring game gives LSU a bounce-back victory on the road.

Mark Stoops has won 7 of the past 8 matchups against Mizzou, which had 3 different head coaches during that stretch. At the same time, 5 of the past 6 games were decided by 10 points or less. Once again, it’s a game decided late. Both teams struggle to string together scoring drives and it turns into a low-scoring affair. Just like last year, the first team to 20 might be sitting pretty. So what’s the difference? UK speedster Barion Brown takes a screen pass 75 yards to the house to break a 10-10 tie and give Kentucky a touchdown lead that it holds onto late.

Death, taxes and Mizzou finding a way to beat South Carolina. The last time that didn’t happen was 2018 when the college football gods dropped a monsoon into Williams-Brice Stadium. But just like each of the past 4 years, South Carolina is a shell of itself offensively against Mizzou. Spencer Rattler gets picked off by Kris Abrams-Draine, who returns it to the house. The Gamecocks’ ground game can’t muster much of anything against Baker’s experienced defense. The Horn-led Mizzou offense opens up a bit with some play-action shots to Burden, and once again, the Tigers find a way to bring South Carolina back to earth.

After last year’s scare in Columbia, no, I don’t think Kirby Smart’s squad will get off to a slow start even after the Florida win in Week 9. More likely is that his defense comes out with its hair on fire and forces 3 turnovers in the first half. Malaki Starks and Dan Jackson pick off passes to set up short fields. Against his former team, Lovett gets into the end zone to put the exclamation point on a revenge game of sorts (if you can call it that) for the Dawgs.

A well-rested Joe Milton comes out firing against a risk-taking Mizzou secondary. That proves costly for the home team. Mizzou bites on a couple of hitch-and-go routes and Squirrel White gets loose twice in the first half. That puts Horn in some obvious passing situations, which allows that experienced Tennessee secondary to play aggressively. Horn is picked off 3 times in his second consecutive rough showing while the Vols avoid a trap game ahead of Georgia.

A pair of 5-win teams battling for bowl eligibility deliver a uniquely entertaining but low-scoring affair. Florida DC Austin Armstrong and Baker pull out all the stops on a frigid day that only produces 3 touchdowns. With Florida clinging to a 10-7 lead in the 4th quarter, Billy Napier opts not to settle for the field position game. A 3rd-and-long pass by Florida QB Graham Mertz is tipped at the line of scrimmage and picked off by Abrams-Draine. That sets up a Schrader touchdown and ultimately gives Mizzou a postseason-clinching victory.

I’ll call my shot and say that Arkansas DL Trajan Jeffcoat has 2 sacks against his former team. I’ll call another shot and say that Arkansas treats this as a Senior Day of sorts for KJ Jefferson and Rocket Sanders, both whom could return in 2024, but barring injury, will likely be off to the NFL at season’s end. Much like when Treylon Burks got an ideal sendoff 2 years ago against Mizzou, the same plays out for Jefferson and Sanders. The Battle Line Rivalry goes to the home team for the 4th consecutive year.

Where have I seen this before? Oh, I don’t know. Basically every year of the Drinkwitz era?

More than any other team in the SEC, I looked at my Crystal Ball and felt that I was too low on the Tigers. A 6-6 mark with the best wins against South Carolina and Florida wouldn’t exactly show that Drinkwitz has taken the next step. It would show more of the same for a program that hasn’t beaten a ranked Power 5 team since 2014.

If Horn steps in looks the part with a new offensive play-caller, even if it’s just in flashes, it could change the outlook of the program. Getting Burden in spots where he can become a much-needed star at receiver would be huge, as would Baker’s defense looking like one of the conference’s best after it was vastly improved in 2022.

If Drinkwitz goes 6-6, no, I don’t think he’s out. That extension late last season changed that. But man, it would feel like such a missed opportunity if Mizzou didn’t take another step forward. That No. 2 spot in the East is seemingly up for grabs, and with all that production back, this is the time for Drinkwitz to show that he’s the guy who can keep the program in a nice spot ahead of the SEC’s 2024 expansion.

There’s never been a better time for Mizzou to rise above mediocrity.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register

I think there are six games that could easily go either way on the schedule. The writer has them going 3-3 in those games. This could cause quite the swing in the prediction if things either fall into place for Missouri, or if the breaks just don’t go their way. They will certainly be an interesting team to watch.

Interested in Mizzou fan comments.

I would have thought Drink was on the warm-seat. The Tigers need for that new OC to work some magic. Tiger fans have got to be getting antsy after several mediocre seasons. I’m sure they want Mizzou to make some noise this year.

Glad we got Dominic Lovett though!

Unfortunately, 6-6 is pretty much par for the course. Anything below that and it’s a different conversation. It’s just the way Mizzou operates. Barry Odom was a .500 coach after 4 seasons and fired. Doing the same with Drink is just starting all over again. Mizzou isn’t going to get the big name assistants out there and that’s just the reality of the program. At this point, let him ride and continue the recruiting momentum and hopefully Kirby Moore can turn into the QB whisperer we thought Drink was when originally hired.

It’s silly how last season we were two plays away from going 8-4 instead of 6-6 (Auburn fumble into the endzone in OT and roughing the kicker 30 yards behind line of scrimmage against Kentucky). Both those games keep me up at night still. How different the narrative would be going into this season would be if those went our way…

Ha, Funny, the penalty didn’t cost MU the win, it cost you to opportunity too score and win. Plus, it was the correct call. We’re just better than the Tigers. And by now, y’all should be used to it.

Mizzou can surprise a lot of team this year. Could easily be anywhere from 9-4 to 4-9 I honestly wouldn’t be surprised by any out come. Their defense is legit. Wide outs are explosive. Like last year though Mizzous season will be determined by the quarterback play or lack there of.

Meant 8 wins or 8 loses ?. Fat fingers


It all depends on the o-line. They were below average last year. New coach and 2 players with experience from the portal.

Nothing ever surprises me with Mizzou football.

Does 6-6 have Drink keeping his job? Mizzou might have no choice considering the new contract Drink received last year.

This has the be the 5th prediction article I’ve scanned through that has a team going 6-6.

Look back over the last few years final records. Loads of 6-6, 7-6, 6-7s including AU.

2020 obviously the outlier.

In a lot of ways, 6-6 may be worst case scenario. Less than that, and he is gone. 8+ and we have a real reason to feel optimistic. 6-6 makes things difficult.

Personally, I think 6-6 would not be enough. There is some quiet confidence around the team this year, and the overall talent level is higher than we’ve had in years. Plus the AD (DRF) was not the one who hired him, and has shown the willingness to make tough decisions. I think another .500 team would not give off the confidence that he will ever be good enough.

Seems like almost every prediction article I’ve read ends with a team going 6-6.

Seems to be a lot of parity in the lower half of the SEC. I wouldn’t know how to rank them, either. There’s a good chance they split the games against each other.

Missouri has beaten Arkansas 10 out of 14 games. Kind of hope Arkansas wins this one, God love um… If you put the Kansas City Chiefs in Mizzou uniforms, they still wouldn’t beat Kentucky.

Not sure, but on paper Arkansas should win this year….but….Mizzou seems to have the hogs number. I see this years game as a toss up.

Connor is contradicting his own articles. Imagine that. Connor you wrote an article predicting SC to come in second in the East, yet in your prediction articles you have them losing. I am confused.

I would like to point out that Mizzou has had too 25 wins in the past 10 years. They beat: Florida (2018), LSU (2020), and South Carolina (2022). Those are just the wins off the top of my head.

Thank you! I mean it’s nothing to brag about but jeeze… don’t need to kick us while we’re down.

I think 6-6 is too low. However, I don’t think that its unfair to pick that. This team is a lot of unknowns, especially at the most important position on the field. I personally lean towards 8-4, with the UK, KSU, AR, games flipping 2/3.

I don’t think they deserve to be picked higher than they are, but I feel more confidence than I have in a few years.

I like Mizzou. Can’t stand Eli Drinkwitz. He talks too much for a dork. He has been recruiting very well recently, but the new state law and having 2 in state 5 stars favored to go there this year helps with that, he still has to win those battles. Nwaneri’s recruitment is probably over, but Wingo will be a dogfight with the big boys until the end most likely, Texas and Georgia really want him. With that being said, this feels like a 7-5 team, they have more talent than they normally have, except QB could be an issue unfortunately, I don’t think Kansas State is coming to Columbia to beat the Tigers, and Mizzou y’all better not let it happen can’t have the Big 12 over there jawing for no reason

Of course Missouri fans feel even more expectations about beating Kansas State but to be fair Kansas State has made some good hires at Football coach over the years. To truly understand how good the hires one needs to live in / near Manhattan KS for a few years. Good place but not overwhelming magnetic and Columbia can make a strong argument for having a more versatile community appeal imo

Better, Worse the same..

OLine start up front because up front is where it starts, Center, Tolison is back, but apparently because he is better not because there is no other to play center, he has taken a step. Because last years Tolison won’t work. Right guard and tackle are going to be better, same with the left side.

OLine Better

QB because when it starts QB starts it, if it’s Cook, no amount of experience, or know how makes up for a good deep threat, and that’s not Cook, it has to be one of the other QBs and this is where the new OC steps in and makes it happen. If its Cook,

QB the same

RB, Peat and Schrader are back and will be the bell cows again, when you look up “try hard” in the dictionary there is picture of Cody Schrader, the little guy has more get it done attitude than Rudy in disguise.

RB the same

Skill Boys Lovett to UGA hurts, not gonna lie, but the addition of Wease Jr could be the answer. Burden back, Mehki best hand on team Miller back, this unit is sauce.

WR the same

Offense, overall has reason to be better(plenty of room for improvement) but needs Kirby to cook it up … it starts up front..

Offense Better

Dline Even with the loss of a starter this unit is deep, no guarantee of course but should repeat as a good one, a good SEC dline is a good dline..

Dline the same

LBs are back, are good

TyHop will be all conference

LBs the same


more of the same from 2nd year at the helm DC wiz Blake Baker is what Mizzou needs, and more of the same we can expect, the lineup in the backfield is more or less all back and has too many good ones to mention though I will mention KAD because we all like saying Kris Abram Drains handle.

DBs are back are good

DBs the same

Defense got under cut by a too often misconbobulated offense, but if the O improves it will only further emphasize how good the D actually can be.

Defense over all good and the same

The Team

whats not to like is that there isn’t a convincing QB ready to take the helm and while Drinkwitz went out and replaced himself as OC, again he took his sweet time doing it, and time is one thing there is not plenty of when it comes to SEC football.

In Tiger Nation, even Drinks proponents are getting ance his detractors are nearly fuming.. Drink needs to be better just like his team, and this is the year that most likely decides if he is an SEC coach long term or finished as one.

The Team overall the same.. wait no BETTER, wait no, the same,, wait…

Braves1471“Does 6-6 have Drink keeping his job?”

Big NIL money says “NO”

It’s going to be a lot tougher to beat Mizzou this year. Last year, some teams had subpar performances against Mizzou and didn’t look up to the games. When Georgia almost lost, it served as a wake-up call for them for the rest of the season. While Mizzou will be much improved, it may still result in another 0.500 season.

I never see much love for Mizzou on here, but what is pretty telling is they have a pretty good record against SEC competition that goes somewhat under the radar… I look at the mix of projections, and while it doesn’t feel right, it could be close to on point. Kentucky has had some gifts over the years that literally have had significant impact on the game outcome. I for one was impressed with the Mizzou defense last year. If they make some gains on the offensive side of the ball, they’ll win some games they aren’t supposed to this year…

It’s hard to love a team that keeps losing to Kentucky,,, in football.

Why? We have the 2nd best record in the East the last 5 years. Beating us would be a feather in your cap..

“a program that hasn’t beaten a ranked Power 5 team since 2014.”

It was a pretty good article until we just started making things up.

First understand that Missouri hired a relatively inexperienced Athletic Director. Second look at the Drinkwitz contract renewal and ask how much of that was dictated by goals met in the first contract?Most people are going to give Drinkwitz’s agent (if he has one) some credit for selling a plan to Missouri requiring so much money for so little production in wins. My 2 cents say Missouri is paying for personality, public speaking, presentation, more than management of the program. This is not unusual with younger coaches however and we just don’t know if the investment will pay for itself yet?

Mizzou is hard to predict as is any team with an unsettled QB situation. But imo this is a good guess on the Tigers but I would change SC and Fla. Beating Fla losing to SC. That’s 6-6, but if Cook plays great, then Ark and KY could be wins as well. Don’t think Horn is as good as Cook.

The Jeffcoat prediction is a bit confusing. Horrible in 22, regressing drastically in every category, then transferred. Good luck kid, you were a force until last year.

I must agree. With Conner and the comments. To me, it just feels like another throw away season. However a healthy Cook, and better play calling,(Moore) which was desperately needed, could make a 2-3 game swing from last season. But Tennesee and Kentucky should never beat us. Ever. After all we were Big eight once. And they never could be. Mark Stoops is not Bob Stoops. And Heupel, although also a big eight product is a one trick pony. Either outscore him or leave the offense at home and bring two defenses. No matter the greatly improved recruiting at Mizzou. ( we’ve been on the cusp of playing for an NC without any talent twice) Wins are all that matter. And if Drink can’t improve this year then I say let’s spend 20 mil and move on. Good coaches figure it out. Even Pinkel who could not recruit got results. Here’s hoping for a healthy season which is key to teams like ours where top talent is scarce, so we can see if we actually have a good coach or not. If we’re healthy and we lose then let’s have a job fair and hire another.