Two of Missouri’s Top Defenders, Ty’Ron Hopper and Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Will Miss Cotton Bowl With Injuries

By Dan Hope on December 23, 2023 at 2:56 pm
Ty’Ron Hopper vs. South Carolina
Jay Biggerstaff – USA TODAY Sports

Two of Missouri’s top defensive players are out for the Cotton Bowl due to injuries.

Following the Tigers’ arrival in Dallas on Saturday, Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said at his arrival press conference that linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper and cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. will both miss next week’s game due to injuries.

Hopper, a second-team All-SEC selection and Butkus Award finalist, ranks second on the Tigers with 55 total tackles this season, including six tackles for loss and three sacks. He suffered an ankle sprain in Missouri’s Nov. 11 win against Tennessee and missed the Tigers’ final two games of the regular season, and will be unable to return for the season finale.

Rakestraw, who has started 21 games at cornerback for Missouri over the past two seasons, recorded 35 total tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and a forced fumble for the Tigers in nine regular-season games this year. He was graded by Pro Football Focus as one of the SEC’s top 10 cornerbacks this season, allowing only 18 catches for 197 yards and one touchdown on 28 targets. 

Missouri will also be without linebacker Chad Bailey, who started three games for the Tigers this season but has been out since the middle of the season due to an abdominal injury.

Entering the Cotton Bowl, Missouri ranks 39th nationally in total defense (347.2 yards allowed per game) and tied for 40th in the FBS in scoring defense (22.3 points per game).

Outside of those three players, Missouri expects to have its full contingent of players available for the Cotton Bowl, as no Tigers have opted out of the game.

It remains uncertain whether Ohio State will have any opt-outs or if it will be without any key players due to injuries. Ryan Day is scheduled to meet with the media at approximately 5 p.m. following the Buckeyes’ arrival in Dallas.

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