Mizzou football: My 10 favorite moments from the 2020 season
For his 1st season, Mizzou head coach Eli Drinkwitz did pretty well. Let’s just not talk about that 2-game stretch to end the season.
There’s no doubt about it — the Tigers are trending up with Drinkwitz at the helm. He finished the season 5-5 and managed to sign a recruiting class that ranks No. 26, according to 247Sports.
There was a lot to like about Mizzou’s 2020 season. Here are 10 of my favorite moments:
10. Being ranked by the College Football Playoff committee
Did anyone see that coming?
Being ranked No. 25 by the College Football Playoff committee in his 1st season at the helm was a heck of an accomplishment for Drinkwitz. It came following the Tigers’ wild 50-48 win over Arkansas in early December, which was Mizzou’s 3rd straight win.
9. Jarvis Ware’s pick-6 at Florida
Yes, Florida beat Mizzou, 41-17. But early in the 2nd quarter, the Tigers were winning 7-6 and had all the momentum in the world.
Ware picking off Kyle Trask and finding his way to the end zone under the lights at The Swamp was delightful to watch. Too bad things went downhill quickly after that, though.
8. All the razzle-dazzle trick plays
Of course, you don’t want an offense to live off these, but you have to admit they were clever and fun to watch.
It seemed like Drinkwitz had a trick play in his pocket for every opponent in 2020, and he had a knack for knowing when to call them. Most of the time, they were successful.
WELCOME TO SATURDAY
MISSOURI FLEA FLICKER
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 10, 2020
7. Drinkwitz snatching up Dominic Lovett, Mookie Cooper
One area of the offense that needs an upgrade is receiver. Drinkwitz went out and did something about it by flipping Dominic Lovett from Arizona State and convincing Ohio State transfer Mookie Cooper to come back home.
These are wideouts who are viewed as talented enough to earn reps right away for the Tigers. Both were 4-star prospects coming out of high school — the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Cooper in the 2020 class and the 5-10, 175-pound Lovett in the 2021.
6. The win over Arkansas
The best part about this back-and-forth, head-spinning game that included 1,219 total yards and 98 points was that Mizzou won it while battling adversity.
Mizzou had lost a 10-0 lead, fought back and saw the win slip through Jamal Brooks’ hands in what would have been a game-ending interception on a 2-point conversion.
But Connor Bazelak, calm and cool as ever, led the offense down the field to set up a 32-yard field goal from Harrison Mevis.
The cherry on top of this game was Mizzou’s social media team trolling Arkansas and Sam Pittman.
Did Mizzou just have their largest 4th quarter comeback in school history? pic.twitter.com/jVJu2QzPDB
— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) December 6, 2020
5. Bazelak’s performance against LSU
Yes, LSU’s Bo Pelini-led defense was bad. Really bad, actually. That shouldn’t take away from Bazelak’s day against the Tigers from the Bayou, though.
The Co-SEC Freshman of the Year threw for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns while completing 85 percent of his passes (29-of-34).
4. Larry Rountree’s day against Kentucky
While Mizzou’s defense did its job against the then-brutal rushing attack of Kentucky, Rountree willed his team to the 20-10 win on Oct. 24 in workhorse fashion: 37 carries, 126 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Oh, and one heck of a blow to Kentucky defensive back Kelvin Joseph along the Mizzou sideline, which let Joseph know about it.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 26, 2020
3. Rountree’s ascent in the all-time ranks
The Missouri running back ranks 2nd all-time in rushing yards (3,720, which is 1st among running backs) and rushing touchdowns (40) in program history.
It was simple for Drinkwitz: when in doubt, give Larry the ball. That was Mizzou’s offensive philosophy for the most part in 2020. Against an all-SEC slate, Rountree rushed for the most touchdowns he has ever had in a season — 14. He also caught his most passes in a season with 15 for 100 yards.
2. Nick Bolton’s farewell
Bolton’s career at Mizzou ended on a sour note in a loss to Mississippi State, but he still should be considered as one of the best players to ever come through Mizzou.
In his senior season, against teams that knew how good he was and gameplanned against him, Bolton still racked up 55 solo tackles, which was 3rd in the SEC behind Auburn’s Zakoby McClain and Owen Pappoe, who both played in 1 more game than Bolton did.
The 2nd-team All-American and 2-time 1st-team All-SEC member finished his career with 217 tackles.
1. The LSU win
It didn’t matter that the 2020 version of LSU was nothing like the 2019 one. Beating the defending national champs at home in dramatic fashion to give a 1st-year head coach his 1st win in Columbia was fun to watch.
The celebration after Joshuah Bledsoe’s pass breakup in the end zone to seal the 45-41 win was cool, too.
Randomly thinking about the Mizzou vs. LSU goal line stand again pic.twitter.com/7pwIEul6ML
— Mark Kim (@MarkJKim_) October 22, 2020