Missouri and Arkansas rock in Battle Line Rivalry – Reuters
Missouri can secure bowl eligibility while Arkansas will look to improve its bowl profile when these Southeastern Conference rivals meet Friday in Columbia, Mo.
The Tigers (5-6, 2-5 SEC) and Razorbacks (6-5, 3-4) dubbed this annual game the Battle Line Rivalry. A trophy will be up for grabs on Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.
Missouri won five straight in the series before Arkansas won 34-17 last season.
“The only thing we’re focused on is it’s a rivalry game and it’s trophy week,” Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “That’s it. None of the other things matter. The most important thing for us is that they have a trophy and we want it and the only way to get it is to play our best game and to prepare the way we know how to prepare and play with incredible effort.
“That’s the goal and that’s why we held Seniors’ Week last week. This week is all about Rivalry Week, Arkansas, and the Battle Line Trophy.
Missouri picked up a 45-14 win over New Mexico State in their previous game after suffering a 66-24 loss at Tennessee. Brady Cook continued his improved game completing 19 of 27 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 71 yards on seven carries.
“I felt like with the way things ended against Tennessee, I thought it was really important for us to bounce back,” Drinkwitz said. “Offensively, scoring on our first three practices, scoring on that opening streak in both the first half and the second half, which was the first time we’ve done that all year? there was real growth there to convert big third downs and we converted on the fourth down.
The Razorbacks are coming off a 42-27 loss to the then No. 1. 14 Ole Miss. They recovered quarterback KJ Jefferson from his collarbone injury and their offense returned to high gear.
“Man, it’s good to have KJ back,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We weren’t too clean on the first two drives, the first two drives scored, but he got us clean because of his athleticism.”
Jefferson completed 17 of 22 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns against the Rebels. He also ran for 47 yards on eight carries.
“When you have a guy behind you like that, it builds confidence when you have a big runner who can physically crush people,” Pittman said. “I mean, in the draw they all went inside and he cut outside 20, 30 yards. When you have a guy there who can break tackles and shake things up, you play a bit better, to be honest with you.
Arkansas’ offense averaged 34.9 points per game with Jefferson and just 13.5 in two games in which Jefferson was waived.
On defense, the Razorbacks could miss lead linebacker Bumper Pool, who is struggling with hip and back injuries. Pool is second in the club with 92 tackles.
“Bumper is still Bumper and trying to hang on,” Pittman said. “I don’t know if he will be able to or not. He is beaten, not healthy. We are eligible for bowling. I don’t know if he can play or not.
–Field level media