Missouri will shift its focus from last week’s nail-biting victory over Kansas State as it travels to St. Louis to take on American Athletic Conference opponent Memphis. Both teams are undefeated heading into this Saturday’s neutral-site matchup.
The two programs have faced each other a total of four times in the past, with the Missouri Tigers currently holding a 3-1 advantage. The most recent matchup came in 2018 when MU defeated UofM 65-33 in Columbia. Former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. Larry Rountree III, most recently a running back for the Los Angeles Chargers, rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns to help lead the Missouri Tigers to victory.
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The only time MU lost to Memphis was in 1996, with a score of 19-16 in Faurot Field. Missouri also won the only matchup at UofM 27-17 in 1999. Former Missouri Tigers QB Kirk Farmer recorded two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help MU pull away.
Missouri Looks to Keep Things Rolling
It’s tough to shift focus after an exhilarating win like Missouri had last week against Kansas State. Kicker Harrison Mevis broke the SEC record with a 61-yard field goal to win the game. Now, the Missouri Tigers are preparing for a talented Memphis Tigers team, and there is some uncertainty for MU heading into Saturday’s game.
Earlier this week, QB Brady Cook was ruled questionable for Saturday’s matchup due to a knee issue that occurred last weekend against the Wildcats. If Cook is unable to play, sophomore Sam Horn will be the starter for MU. Horn has only attempted five passes so far this season and played just one half in Missouri’s season-opener against South Dakota. There is a possibility that Miami transfer Jake Garcia could see some action this weekend. Garcia hasn’t taken any snaps this season but would likely serve as Horn’s backup if Cook can’t play.
Missouri’s wide receiving core has been excellent so far this season. WR Luther Burden III is coming off an impressive performance against Kansas State with 114 yards and two touchdowns. WR Theo Wease Jr. is also starting to find his groove in his first season in Columbia, with 107 yards and a touchdown in three games. WRs Mookie Cooper and Mehki Miller, along with tight end Brett Norfleet, have also been effective targets for Cook this season. However, Norfleet has been ruled out for Saturday’s matchup.
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The RB duo of Cody Schrader and Nathaniel Peat will look to pose challenges for Memphis’ defense on Saturday. Schrader has rushed for 280 yards and a touchdown in three games, while Peat has 121 rushing yards and a receiving touchdown so far. The ground attack could play a key role for MU as it seeks to exploit the Memphis Tigers’ defense.
The defense has been the strength so far for Missouri this season. Defensive back Joseph Charleston has been leading the way for Blake Baker’s defense. He has 18 total tackles, including six solo tackles against KSU. Linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper, defensive lineman Johnny Walker Jr., and DB Ennis Rakestraw Jr. have also been big contributors to MU’s defensive success, each recording 14 total tackles. DB Kris Abrams-Draine has the only interception for the Missouri Tigers, picking off Wildcats’ QB Will Howard in the first quarter last weekend.
Memphis Will Give Missouri All It Can Handle
There is no doubt that UofM will be a formidable opponent for MU. Memphis is also undefeated with wins over Bethune-Cookman, Arkansas State, and Navy. The Memphis Tigers dominated both Bethune-Cookman and Arkansas State but faced a thriller at home last Thursday against the Midshipmen.
Missouri’s defense will have its hands full with UofM’s offense, which is currently averaging 40 points per game. QB Seth Hanigan leads Memphis’ offense with 791 yards and three touchdowns in the first three games of the season. The RB duo of Blake Watson and Sutton Smith has also been explosive for head coach Ryan Silverfield’s offense. Watson leads the team in rushing with 295 yards and four touchdowns, including a 69-yard run in the third quarter against Navy that secured the victory. Smith has 127 yards and two touchdowns to start the season for UofM.
Photo Cred: Memphis Athletics
Memphis is also dangerous at the WR position. Roc Taylor leads the team with 154 yards and a touchdown that came at the end of the first half to tie the game against the Midshipmen. WRs Demeer Blankumsee and Tauskie Dove have also played significant roles in UofM’s offensive success, each scoring a touchdown this season. Dove spent four seasons with the Missouri Tigers before ultimately transferring to Memphis for an additional year of eligibility.
Regardless of who plays at QB, Kirby Moore’s offense faces a challenging test against UofM’s defense. Matt Barnes’ defense is currently ranked seventh in the nation, according to NCAA.com. LB Chandler Martin has been the leader of UofM’s defense, tallying 20 total tackles (15 solo) in three games. LB Geoffery Cantin-Arku has 14 tackles (seven solo) so far for the Memphis Tigers. DLs Andres Fox and Derick Hunter Jr. lead Memphis in sacks with 1.5 each.
Missouri will kick off against Memphis at 6:30 P.M. on Saturday at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, with the game broadcast on ESPNU.