Missouri, Memphis meet in battle of Tigers in St. Louis

Field Level Media

September 21, 2023 at 1:14 am.

Upsetting then-No. 15 Kansas State 30-27 at home gave Missouri (3-0) its best start since 2018.

Head coach Eli Drinkwitz, now 20-19 at Missouri, will try to build on the potential breakthrough against Memphis (3-0, 1-0 in American Athletic Conference) Saturday in The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.

He praised his team’s ability to overcome momentum shifts to edge Kansas State.

“That’s the type of game that we need as a team and an organization,” Drinkwitz said.

Now he’ll need to gauge their ability to adjust on the fly if quarterback Brady Cook misses time.

Cook delivered his career-best performance for Missouri: 23-for-35 for 356 yards and two touchdowns despite suffering a hyperextended knee. Drinkwitz said Cook would miss practice Tuesday due to the injury and is considered day-to-day.

Receiver Luther Burden III (seven catches, 114 yards, two touchdowns) enjoyed his second straight 100-yard receiving game. But the big hero was Harrison Mevis, whose 61-yard field goal won the game as time expired.

“That was truly a dream,” Cook said of the scene last week.

If he’s unavailable, redshirt freshman Sam Horn would be the starter for Mizzou.

“Fired up for these fans,” Drinkwitz said on building excitement around his program. “Our fans, storming the field, deserve that. The gold on that field was beautiful. I know our fans have been waiting a long time.”

Memphis is coming off a 28-24 victory at home over Navy.

The Tigers prevailed despite allowing the Midshipmen to build an edge in total yardage (432-408) and time of possession (32:49 to 27:11).

“A win is a win at the end of the day,” Memphis running back Blake Watson said. “We’re always going to have something to clean up, no matter how many we win by, no matter how we look.”

Watson gained 146 yards of his 169 yards rushing in the second half. He also caught six passes for 68 yards overall.

Quarterback Seth Hanigan completed 23 of 35 passes for 218 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He took a big hit in the game and briefly exited to be checked for a concussion.

Memphis is preparing for the Missouri defense, which ranked fourth in the SEC last season in yards allowed per game.

“They’re big, they’re physical,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said. “You watch what they did against Kansas State, they were effective in a lot of different ways. Kansas State was the 15th-ranked team in the country for a reason.”