The hometown kids came to play.
St. Louis natives Brady Cook and Luther Burden III came back to their hometown and led Mizzou football to a 34-27 win over Memphis at The Dome at America’s Center, where Mizzou played for the first time in 13 years. Another St. Louisian, Cody Schrader, broke off for a 37-yard touchdown to ice the game with less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
With SEC action on deck next Saturday, Mizzou is 4-0 for the first time since 2013.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Questionable Brady Cook? Not quite
Before the game, a group of Mizzou fans in The Dome chanted Brady Cook’s name, a long road from the sparse boos he was met with before the Tigers faced Kansas State.
Cook, wearing a brace on his right leg and carrying a “questionable” injury status into the game, didn’t take long to repay the newfound faith.
After a pair of all-St. Louis connections on the first two plays of the game — a 14-yard pass to Burden in the flat followed by a handoff to Cody Schrader — Cook sent one long.
Seventy-six yards long, right in stride for Marquis Johnson, who sauntered home.
That set the tone.
Cook, a Chaminade in St. Louis grad, was near perfect. He finished 18-of-25 for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
He only missed one pass in the entire first half, and that was still the correct decision. Missouri had goal to go on third down with no timeouts and 14 seconds left on the clock. To that point, he completed 11 straight passes for 213 yards and a touchdown.
Luther Burden goes berserk
There was nothing. Not on the first, second or third read for Cook.
A good course of action in that situation, if it’s an option, is to dump it off in the flat to your do-it-all — and do-it-great — wide receiver out of East St. Louis.
Burden, with nothing but Memphis blue and gray in his way, juked one defender, made a second miss when it looked easier to hit him, then crashed into two more to take the Tigers down to the goal line for a 20-yard gain. Running back Nathaniel Peat drove it home two plays later to give the Tigers a 14-10 lead.
Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield joked midweek he hoped Burden would miss the bus or train to St. Louis.
No such luck.
Burden, simply put, was just his usual self Saturday, furthering his case as one of the premier receivers in college football.
Cook found the star receiver in space, in coverage, up high, up close — any way to get the ball in Burden’s hands. He finished the day with 177 yards receiving, which was a season-high.
Through four games, Burden has already broken his freshman-year receiving yards total for the season, now with 504 receiving yards — or 126 per game.
On fourth-and-5 in a one-score game, Mizzou cornerback Marcus Clarke picked off Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan, stepping in front of his receiver for as easy a turnover as he’s likely to ever get on the underthrown ball.
Mizzou drove up the field, burned a little clock on the way, and settled for a Harrison Mevis field goal to restore a two-score lead.
MU coach Eli Drinkwitz on Tuesday stressed the need for Missouri to create more turnovers, especially on third down, where most of his side’s INTs came last season.
One quarter before Clarke’s pick, Kris Abrams-Draine hauled in his second in two weeks, out-tussling former teammate Tauskie Dove to come down with the ball.
Missouri’s two forced turnovers against Memphis were double their season total before the game.
Even with starting cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. watching from the sideline, Missouri’s corners came up clutch. Dreyden Norwood had two pass breakups before leaving the game with an injury in the second quarter. KAD and Clarke had a breakup apiece.
The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.