Nov 18, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne (7) runs the ball as Missouri Tigers linebacker Chuck Hicks (30) makes the tackle during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Missouri tops Florida on last-second field goal to win thriller

Harrison Mevis kicked a 30-yard field goal with five seconds left to lift No. 9 Missouri past Florida 33-31 on Saturday.

Mevis also kicked field goals of 22, 38 and 24 yards as the Tigers (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) furthered their bid for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.
Backup Florida quarterback Max Brown rallied the Gators from a 30-21 fourth-quarter deficit to a 31-30 lead. Trey Smack kicked a go-ahead 35-yard field goal with 1:36 left.

But Missouri moved 62 yards to set up Mevis’ winning kick, with Brady Cook completing a 27-yard pass to Luther Burden III on fourth-and-17 to extend the drive.

Cook passed for 331 yards and one touchdown and ran for another. Cody Schrader rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown, and Luther Burden III caught nine passes for 158 yards.

Trevor Etienne gained 119 total yards and scored two touchdowns for Florida (5-6, 3-5). Graham Mertz completed 14 of 21 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns before suffering an apparent collarbone injury in the third quarter.

The Tigers opened the game by driving 70 yards for a 3-0 lead on Mevis’ 22-yard field goal.

The Gators answered with an 80-yard drive to move ahead 7-3. Mertz threw a 61-yard pass to Ricky Pearsall and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Eugene Wilson III.

Missouri built a 13-7 halftime lead on Schrader’s 42-yard touchdown burst and Mevis’ 38-yard field goal.

Florida started the second half by moving 75 yards on just four plays to regain the lead 14-13. Etienne’s touchdown catch finished the drive.

The Tigers responded with a 75-yard TD drive, capped by Cook’s 1-yard run, to surge ahead 20-14.

The Gators raced 82 yards on just three plays for a 21-20 lead. Pearsall ran 39 yards for a touchdown.

Mevis answered with a 24-yard field goal as Missouri edged ahead 23-21. After Brown lost a fumble on the Missouri 19, Cook completed a 77-yard TD pass to Theo Wease Jr. to make it 30-21.

The Gators converted fourth-and-4 from its own 31-yard line during a 75-yard touchdown drive to move within 30-28. Florida marched 45 yards for Smack’s goal-ahead field goal, but Missouri answered with its winning drive.

–Field Level Media

Missouri quarterback Brady Cook adjusts his helmet before a college football game at Faurot Field on Nov. 11, 2023, in Columbia, Mo.

No. 9 Missouri looks to keep hot hand in clash vs. Florida

No. 9 Missouri will continue its surprising quest for a New Year’s Six bowl berth when it hosts struggling Florida on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

Coming off their 36-7 victory over Tennessee, the Tigers (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) will bring ample momentum to Saturday’s game versus the Gators (5-5, 3-4).

“We can’t rely on last week’s performance,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “We have to stand alone on what we’re going to do this week.”

The Tigers already have earned their most victories since 2018 and they are aiming to reach double-digit victories for the first time since 2014.

“Hopefully it’s a new trajectory of Tiger football,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve been kind stuck there in that middle. Now obviously this year we’re not. Obviously we’ve got to finish, we’ve got to finish the season. But there’s a new respectability to our program, whether it’s on the recruiting trail or the football field.”

Florida carries a three-game losing streak into this game. Pressure is mounting on second-year coach Billy Napier, who went 6-7 and 3-5 in the SEC during his first season.

“It is what it is. I think we have to continue to be action-oriented, solution-oriented. I do believe in what we do and how we do it,” Napier said. “There’s always adjustments that are required. We have tremendous leadership here top-down. We have great resources. We have a tremendous product to sell. This place has done it before, and I’m firmly confident that we’re capable of doing it again.”

Missouri Brady Cook has completed 201 of 296 passes for 2,746 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He also has rushed for 228 yards and six scores.

“This guy for sure has the ability on third down to escape and extend and make some plays with his feet,” Napier said. “He’s also playing really efficiently, in my opinion. They do a good job using their skill. They play with balance. They do a good job with the run concepts.”

Luther Burden III has caught 68 passes for 984 yards and eight touchdowns despite battling a nagging ankle injury. Theo Wease Jr. has 43 receptions for 547 yards and five scores.

Running back Cody Schrader has rushed for 1,124 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 5.7-yard average. Against Tennessee, he rushed for 205 yards also caught five passes for 116 yards.

“The guy’s got good instincts and vision,” Napier said. “I think he can get small, plays at pad level with power. Ultimately, I think he’s a guy that’s been productive as a running back for a long time. I think they do a good job conceptually creating running lanes for him, and he’s able to maximize those.”

Florida quarterback Graham Mertz has completed 247 of 337 passes for 2,720 yards, 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Ricky Pearsall has caught 62 passes for 876 yards and four touchdowns. Eugene Wilson III has 51 receptions for 479 yards and five scores.

Trevor Etienne (628 yards, seven touchdowns, 5.9-yard average) and Montrell Johnson Jr. (625 yards, four TDs, 5.1 average) have powered the ground game.

“Coach Napier does a really good job, multiple formations, multiple shifts, motions, multiple personnels,” Drinkwitz said. “A lot of different eye candy as far as moving people around. Then they’ve got dynamic playmakers, they’ve got really good running backs.”

–Field Level Media

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III (7) runs with the ball during NCAA college football game against Missouri on Saturday, November 11, 2023 in Columbia, MO.

Cody Schrader helps No. 14 Missouri stomp No. 13 Tennessee

Cody Schrader accumulated 321 yards of total offense and rushed for a touchdown as No. 14 Missouri defeated No. 13 Tennessee 36-7 on Saturday in Southeastern Conference at Columbia, Mo.

Schrader rushed for 205 yards on 35 carries and caught five passes for 116 yards for Missouri (8-2, 4-2 SEC).

Brady Cook completed 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Tigers. He also rushed for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Harrison Mevis kicked field goals of 31, 46 and 23 yards for Missouri, which snapped a four-game losing streak against Tennessee.

Joe Milton III completed 22 of 34 passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Volunteers (7-3, 3-3)

Missouri outgained Tennessee 255-83 on the ground and 530-350 in total yardage.

In the scoreless first quarter, Missouri outgained Tennessee 138-6. But Cook threw an interception on the Tigers’ first possession, then their second possession resulted in Mevis’ 31-yard field goal 44 seconds into the second quarter.

Less than two minutes later, Milton’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Dont’e Thornton Jr. put Tennessee up 7-3.

The Tigers countered with a 75-yard TD drive, fueled by Schrader’s 43-yard reception and capped by his 7-yard scoring run.

The Volunteers moved into scoring range late in the half, but Jaylen Wright fumbled with 20 seconds left. Missouri moved 53 yards — with 35 coming on another Schrader run — to increase its lead to 13-7 on Mevis’ 46-yard field goal.

The Tigers boosted its margin to 19-7 with an 80-yard drive. Cook’s 48-yard pass to Marquis Johnson got it started, then Cook’s 3-yard touchdown run finished it with 10:04 left in the third quarter.

Missouri failed on its two-point conversion bid, but it got another defensive stop to make it 22-7 on Mevis’ 23-yard field goal.

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers pushed their lead to 29-7 with a 66-yard TD drive, capped by Cook’s 21-yard pass to Luther Burden III.

Daylan Carnell’s touchdown interception return of 38 yards with 5:50 to play left made it 36-7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Devin Leary (13) hands the ball to running back Ray Davis (1) during the second quarter against the Florida Gators at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri, No. 24 Kentucky looking to bounce back

No. 24 Kentucky will look for quarterback Devin Leary to get back on target when the Wildcats host Missouri on Saturday in Southeastern Conference action in Lexington.

Leary completed just 10 of 26 passes for 128 yards as the Wildcats (5-1, 2-1) fell 51-13 last weekend at No. 1 Georgia.

“Usually, I don’t say a whole lot during games to a quarterback … but there’s no excuse to not hit some of those passes,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “I mean, we had some guys wide open, you know? We missed some open plays to keep it close early.”

After reviewing the game video, Stoops identified some fixes Leary will need to make before the Wildcats take on Missouri (5-1, 1-1).

“Sometimes it is his feet or his footwork and sometimes him maybe expecting a receiver to run out at a different angle,” Stoops said. “There’s some little things and there’s some that (you) just have to make. He doesn’t need me to sit here and make an excuse for him. He’s a big boy and he owns it. Just like everybody else on our team, you have to have the courage to see the areas that you need to improve on and you have to own it.”

Leary has completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns, with five interceptions, this season.

His inconsistency has led the Wildcats to rely more heavily on Ray Davis, who has rushed for 653 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

“Really good vision and burst, I think he’s running this year better than maybe he did last year,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “But he’s now playing behind a really good offensive line that has a variety of run schemes.”

Kentucky will catch Missouri coming off a 49-39 home loss to then-No. 23 LSU. Missouri raced to a 22-7 lead before fading.

“I think we were all disappointed in the outcome, but we were not devastated,” Drinkwitz said. “That’s the thing about this league, every week you’re going to go out there and you’re going to compete, you’ve got to lay it on the line — and that doesn’t guarantee you the result you want.”

Missouri’s Brady Cook completed 30 of 47 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had his first two interceptions of the season.

Overall, Cook has thrown for 1,879 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 71.8 percent completion rate while demonstrating good mobility. He has three rushing touchdowns.

Cook’s top targets are Luther Burden III (54 catches, 793 yards, five touchdowns) and Theo Wease Jr. (28-334-4).

Cody Schrader (577 yards, six touchdowns) and Nathaniel Peat (266 and two) alternate at running back for the Tigers. Schrader ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns against LSU despite playing with a strained quadriceps muscle. Drinkwitz listed him as “questionable at best” for Saturday’s game.

Missouri defensive back Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (groin) will be sidelined, but the Tigers hope to get wide receiver Mekhi Miller (undisclosed) back.

Kentucky guard Kenneth Horsey (leg) is questionable for Saturday, and safety Jalen Geiger (elbow) will be sidelined for “a few weeks,” Stoops said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) scores a touchdown as Missouri Tigers defensive back Daylan Carnell (13) makes the tackle during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 LSU rallies from 15 down, tops No. 21 Missouri

Jayden Daniels passed for 259 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 130 yards and another TD as No. 23 LSU rallied past No. 21 Missouri 49-39 Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

Missouri (5-1, 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference) built a 22-7 lead with 10:47 left in the second quarter before LSU (4-2, 3-1 SEC) climbed back into the game.

Logan Diggs rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown for LSU. Malik Nabers caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown and Brian Thomas Jr. caught four passes for 66 yards and a TD.

Brady Cook passed for 395 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Missouri. Cody Schrader (114 yards rushing, three TDs), Luther Burden III (11 receptions, 149 yards) and Theo Wease Jr. (four catches, 80 yards, one TD) also had big games.

On its first possession Missouri marched 87 yards on nine plays to take an 8-0 lead. Cook threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Wease, then ran in the two-point conversion.

LSU responded with a 75-yard scoring drive capped by Diggs’ 1-yard TD plunge.

Missouri regained the lead 15-7 on its own 75-yard touchdown drive, with Schrader finishing with a 21-yard scoring run. Cook’s 9-yard TD pass to Brett Norfleet pushed the margin to 22-7.

Damian Ramos hit a 48-yard field goal to start LSU’s comeback bid. After Harold Perkins Jr. snagged Cook’s first interception of the season, LSU cut its deficit to 22-17 on Daniels’ 3-yard touchdown pass to Mason Taylor.

Harrison Mevis hit a 50-yard field as the first half ended to extend Missouri’s lead to 25-17.

Ramos hit a 29-yard field goal to cut LSU’s deficit to 25-20 early in the second half, then LSU surged ahead 27-25 on Daniels’ 42-yard touchdown pass to Thomas.

Schrader’s 51-yard run led to his 2-yard TD plunge as Missouri retook the lead 32-27. Daniels answered with a 35-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass to Nabers as LSU moved ahead 35-32.

Cook’s 42-yard pass to Burden set up Schrader’s 1-yard touchdown run as Missouri took a 39-35 lead with 5:40 left in the game. But LSU responded quickly with Daniels’ 29-yard TD pass to Nabers to move up 42-39.

Major Burns sealed the victory for LSU with a pick-six with 34 seconds left.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) warms ups prior to the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 LSU looking to bounce back at No. 21 Missouri

After getting outscored 55-49 at Ole Miss, No. 23 LSU seeks a big defensive improvement Saturday when it visits No. 21 Missouri for a Southeastern Conference showdown.

LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC) yielded 389 passing yards and 317 rushing yards in last Saturday’s loss to the Rebels.

That prompted LSU coach Brian Kelly to hire defensive line coach Pete Jenkins ahead of this game with unbeaten Missouri (5-0, 1-0) in Columbia, Mo.

“We’ve gotta get the guys that are on our roster playing at a higher level. We have to tackle the football and we have to create a new line of scrimmage,” Kelly said. “If we do those two things, we’re gonna be better on defense, we’re gonna keep the points down and we’re gonna continue to win football games. That’s the standard.

“I think we’ve come up with some valid solutions to where we wanna use going forward. We missed a lot of tackles that gave up a lot of yards after the misses.”

LSU’s staff did the math and counted 284 offensive yards for Ole Miss after first contact on 34 missed tackles.

After opening the season with a traditional 4-3 look, LSU went to a 3-3-5 defense against the Rebels. Expect more adjustments ahead of this game.

“It’s really about getting the best players on the field playing their very best football,” Kelly said. “What is that configuration? We’ve gotta be able to maximize the potential of our defensive line and we’re in conversation with ‘Are we doing that?’”

Offensively, LSU has been paced by Jayden Daniels, who has passed for 1,710 yards and 16 touchdowns and run for 292 yards and three TDs.

Malik Nabers (40 catches, 625 yards, five touchdowns) and Brian Thomas Jr. (33-533-8) have been the primary targets for Daniels.

Wide receivers Aaron Anderson and Chris Hilton Jr. are listed as questionable for LSU for this game, as is linebacker Omar Speights.

Missouri, coming off a 38-21 victory at Vanderbilt, is averaging 32.0 points and 453.4 total yards per game. The Tigers’ 5-0 start is their best since opening 7-0 in 2013.

This might be the biggest game the school has played since that season, although coach Eli Drinkwitz tried to downplay that angle.

“This game isn’t more significant than another SEC game,” he said. “It’s good to play in front of a sold-out crowd, but the reality for this team is it’s the next opportunity in a string of 12 opportunities.”

Missouri’s Brady Cook has passed for 356, 341 and 395 yards in his past three games. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes overall with no interceptions.

“He’s playing smart, not conservative,” Drinkwitz said. “When the ball needs to go deep he’s been able to hit those deep balls. When he needs to take some check-downs, he’s done that. He just hasn’t put the ball in jeopardy very much.”

Luther Burden III (43 catches, 644 yards, five touchdowns) is Missouri’s primary receiving threat and Cody Schrader (463 yards, three touchdowns) is its leading rusher.

Missouri listed receiver Mekhi Miller and defensive lineman Darius Robinson as questionable for this game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) hands off to running back Cody Schrader (7) against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Missouri looks to continue strong start at Vanderbilt

Leaving little margin for error during its unbeaten start, No. 23 Missouri now heads to Vanderbilt on Saturday for its Southeastern Conference opener in Nashville, Tenn.

The Tigers (4-0, 0-0 SEC) have beaten their only three FBS foes (MTSU, Kansas State and Memphis) by a combined 14 points. That was good enough for The Associated Press voters to rank Missouri for the first time since 2019.

“Our goal wasn’t to be ranked,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said Tuesday. “Our goal is to play for a championship, and this week needs to be 1-0. So … all that is just noise to us. We don’t get caught up in it.”

The Tigers got to this point by taking care of the ball (two turnovers in 256 snaps) and playing good defense (4.7 yards allowed per play).

The trio of wide receiver Luther Burden (32 catches, 504 yards, three touchdowns), quarterback Brady Cook (1,073 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions) and running back Cody Schrader (league-leading 403 yards, two TDs) leads the Tigers’ offense.

The Missouri defensive backfield has also been a strength. Kris Abrams-Draine, a preseason All-SEC second-team pick, has a pair of interceptions and five breakups, while Daylan Carnell has five tackles for loss.

Defensive lineman Johnny Walker Jr. has three sacks, picking up the slack for preseason All-SEC third-team pick Darius Robinson, who left with an injury in the first quarter last Saturday against Memphis and is questionable for Saturday.

“Darius is battling a strained calf that has really plagued him,” Drinkwitz said. “He keeps trying to go and then at some point in the game, it always goes out on him.”

Not much has gone well lately for the Commodores (2-3, 0-1), who have turned the ball over nine times during a three-game losing streak. Four of those miscues were returned for touchdowns and three others gave opponents possession deep in Vanderbilt territory.

A major culprit has been quarterback AJ Swann, who has thrown seven interceptions. He had two pick-sixes in last weekend’s 45-28 home loss to Kentucky.

“Too often we’re throwing the ball into traffic as if the defense isn’t there,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said Tuesday.

Lea also said that Swann’s health — an issue the last two weeks — remains a concern.

Backup Ken Seals saw time against UNLV and Kentucky; he didn’t play last year but started all of the 2020 season and most of 2021 at Vandy.

The Commodores have to get the ball more to receivers Will Sheppard, London Humphreys and Jayden McGowan, who didn’t do much last week against the Wildcats. They’ve combined for 62 catches, 939 yards and nine TDs.

McGowan has also returned a kickoff for a score this season but didn’t register a reception last week.

Vandy could benefit from the return of three starting defensive backs.

De’Rickey Wright (two interceptions) sat out last week with an injury and could return. Fellow safety Jaylen Mahoney, the team’s most experienced player with 48 games and 39 starts, played just 2 1/2 minutes against Kentucky before a targeting ejection. Vandy also hopes to get starting corner BJ Anderson back.

–Field Level Media