KANSAS CITY, Mo. — College football season is upon us, and the KC-area schools are set to do battle for the first time this week.
The Tigers will begin their 2023 season on Thursday, at home, against the South Dakota Coyotes at 7 p.m. Mizzou comes in looking to improve off last year’s 6-7 campaign as they search for their first winning season under head coach Eliah Drinkwitz.
They lost leading receiver Dominic Lovett to Georgia. Mizzou returns highly touted receiver Luther Burden, along with Mekhi Miller and Mookie Cooper. Starting quarterback Brady Cook will also be back for the Tigers.
They also bring back veteran leadership from what was a solid defense last season, especially in the secondary, which includes Kris Abrams-Draine, Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Daylan Carnell and Jaylon Carlies, who led the team in tackles and interceptions.
Mizzou also brings back linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper, who led the team in tackles for loss.
Defense is the Tigers’ backbone, but they will need consistent production from their offense to compete.
The Tigers will look to dominate from the outset as they look to avoid an early-season upset.
Kansas will open its season on Friday, at home, against Missouri State at 7 p.m.
They come into the year looking to build off their best season this decade, finishing 6-7 and reaching their first bowl game since 2008.
The first season with Lance Leipold was considered a major success, and a big reason for that success was the play of QB Jalon Daniels.
Daniels had the Jayhawks playing at a high level and was a Heisman candidate before suffering a mid-season injury. With his return, the Jayhawks offense should be successful once again.
Running back Devin Neal had a strong season as well, and when you pair him with Daniels, it gives the Jayhawks a dangerous, balanced attack.
Leading wide receiver Lawrence Arnold also returns the fold and gives the Jayhawks a weapon on the outside. Ray-Pec alum Luke Grimm will also be back and should provide production for KU once again.
They also bring back a solid secondary in defensive back Cobee Bryant and safety Kenny Logan Jr. Lonnie Phelps Jr. returns as well. He led the team in sacks and is looking to use the momentum of last year going into this season.
K-State will open their season on Saturday against Southeast Missouri State, at home, at 7 p.m.
The 16th-ranked Wildcats—as expected—have the highest expectations of all the teams on this list. The reigning Big 12 Champions will look to go a step further and compete for a College Football Playoff spot.
They come into the season with QB Will Howard returning and wide receiver and Lee’s Summit West alum Phillip Brooks, who is the best return man in the conference.
The Wildcats’ biggest strength is their offensive line, including one of the best guards in the country, Cooper Beebee.
K-State did lose some key pieces to the NFL, especially on the defensive side, including Kansas City Chief Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Julius Brents, but they’re expected to reload and compete for another Big 12 title once again.