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Mizzou football grades: Analysis of Missouri Tigers’ Game 3 win over Kansas State

What a difference a week makes.

After Missouri football struggled to put away Middle Tennessee, it put up an impressive effort against No. 15 Kansas State.

One of the craziest games of the 2023 season to date ended when the Missouri Tigers drilled a game-winning 61-yard field ... which led to a field storming in Columbia.

The Tigers improved to 3-0 on the season with the 30-27 win over the Wildcats. Next up: a showdown against Memphis on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Here are our postgame grades from the Tigers’ thrilling game against Kansas State...

Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis

The biggest redemption story in Missouri history hit a peak on Saturday, thanks to standout kicker Harrison Mevis.

A 61-yard field goal for the win? To upset Kansas State?

Enough said.

Grade: A+

Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook

Cook had plenty to prove coming into the weekend. He wasn’t bad in Missouri’s first two wins, but he wasn’t inspiring much confidence in his lack of downfield passing.

Against Kansas State, Cook really let it rip.

His 47-yard touchdown to Luther Burden showcased his deep passing. He scored on a quarterback keeper with a beautiful play call. He stayed in the game after tweaking his ankle.

There was the Cook toughness the team was in awe of.

At one point, Cook was 7 of 8 passing for 118 yards and a touchdown. He was consistently finding open receivers and even got Mookie Copper involved in the passing game. It was an impressive performance as Cook finally went over 300 yards passing for the first time in his career.

Grade: A

Missouri’s pass rush

On a day when Missouri’s defensive front faced an experienced offensive line, the Tigers’ pressure was consistent. It affected the game, too.

The defensive line had three sacks and four quarterback hurries on the day. That pass rush also forced a bad pass from Will Howard that was intercepted by Kris Abrams-Draine.

Johnny Walker, Daylan Carnell and Realus George got sacks against Kansas State. It seemed like whenever the defense needed a play, the pass rush at least did its part to force an issue.

Grade: B+

MU linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper

There might not have been a player that affected the game more from a defensive standpoint than Hopper. Certainly in the first half.

Hopper was active and everywhere on the field. His pass-rushing skills forced the first turnover of the season. He had a tackle for loss and almost had an interception himself. He also had a pass breakup that forced a punt in the fourth quarter and gave Missouri the chance to take the lead.

In a season where he could establish himself as a true NFL prospect, Hopper did so on the biggest stage. That’s hardly a surprise; he seemingly does this every time Missouri needs him to.

On Saturday, though, it was the biggest game of Eli Drinkwitz’s career. Hopper stepped up.

Grade: A

Missouri’s offensive line

Drinkwitz said changes needed to be made, and those changes showed early on. MU kept Cook clean in pass protection as he slung the ball.

But, a few injuries took their toll.

Marcellus Johnson, who started at right guard, suffered an injury and Cam’Ron Johnson returned to that spot. In the second half, penalties and some protection breakdowns allowed the Kansas State defense to get to Cook.

It wasn’t all bad. The line held its own against a vast step-up in competition from an FCS opponent and a C-USA team, but the inconsistency still lingered.

Grade: C

MU wide receiver Luther Burden

What can you say?

Burden is by far the best offensive player on this team. His 114-yard and two-touchdown day lifted Missouri on a day when the Tigers needed it the most.

Burden was beating defenders deep. He was running through tacklers. He was breaking ankles.

Last year, Missouri needed to get the ball into Burden’s hands. This year, the ball is seemingly finding him.

Grade: A+

The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.