The Missouri Tigers will attempt to punch their ticket to a bowl game and avoid a disastrous conclusion to their season as they play their season finale against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Battle Line Rivalry. Kickoff is set for 2:30 EST on Friday, November 29 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. The game will be televised nationally on CBS.
Current odds list Missouri as 12-point favorites on the road. There is also an over/under of 53.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 14 college football odds.
For Missouri, this has truly been a tale of two seasons. After losing their season opener to Wyoming, the Tigers rattled off five straight wins and put themselves in the top-25. However, they have since lost five games in a row, including a puzzling road loss to Vanderbilt and a home loss to Tennessee last week. That leaves Missouri at 5-6 and in need of one more win to become bowl eligible. Needless to say, it would be an utter disaster for Barry Odom for his team to go from being 5-1 to not playing in a bowl game, putting a large amount of pressure on the Tigers to win this week and salvage a once-promising season.
As for Arkansas, Friday’s game marks the merciless end to a terrible season. While Missouri has only lost five games in a row, the Razorbacks have lost eight straight games, including a home loss to San Jose State, one of the worst teams in the Mountain West, and a blowout 45-19 loss to Western Kentucky a few weeks ago. Head coach Chad Morris has already been fired and the Razorbacks had the indignity last week of facing no. 1 LSU as 41-point underdogs, a line that the Tigers covered. Arkansas is just one loss away from back-to-back 2-10 campaigns. That being said, surely it’ll be a relief for both the players and the fanbase when the season finally comes to an end.
Alas, the season ends with a rivalry game with the Battle Line Trophy being up for grabs. To be fair, this is a new rivalry with just 10 all-time meetings between Missouri and Arkansas. Two of those meetings have come in bowl games while only five have come as SEC foes. Missouri has won four of the five meetings since they joined the SEC, including a 38-0 win last season. However, their three other SEC wins over Arkansas all came by a touchdown or less.
I’m usually not a fan of laying down 12 points for a team that’s lost five straight games. But this is obviously a special set of circumstances. Arkansas is perhaps worse than their 2-9 record suggests. Plus, this is barely a rivalry game, so I’m not expecting the Hogs to play with much fire. I’ll take a leap of faith and bet on Missouri to be a little better than most teams that lose five in a row. The Tigers should be able to take care of business against a pitiful Arkansas team and cover the 12-point spread.
As unsure as I am about Missouri, it’s impossible to get past how bad the Arkansas defense has been this year. The lowest point total they’ve allowed this season was the 24 points allowed against Kentucky. Keep in mind that came in one of the first games the Wildcats used wide receiver Lynn Bowden as their quarterback, so they were all run and no pass. The Razorbacks have also allowed a minimum of 45 points in their last five games, including their dreadful loss to Western Kentucky.
It’s hard to imagine the Razorbacks finally coming up with a decent defensive performance at this point in the season. In fairness, Missouri has only scored a total of 47 points during their current five-game losing streak. That might give the Hogs a fighting chance to slow down the Mizzou offense, especially with quarterback Kelly Bryant playing through a hamstring issue. On the other hand, the Tigers scored over 30 points in each of their first six games when they were facing mostly subpar competition. Against a bad defense, I think the Tigers can get back on track enough to reach 30 points.
On the other side, I have zero faith in the Arkansas offense to put together a decent performance. The Razorbacks have played five different quarterbacks this season, including three who threw passes last week against LSU. Needless to say, none have worked out. The only glimmer of hope for the Arkansas offense comes from running back Rakeem Boyd, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. However, the Missouri defense has often excelled at stopping the run. Since the Razorbacks don’t have a viable passing game, the Missouri defense should be able to focus on stopping the run and limit the Arkansas offense.
Ultimately, any concerns about Missouri’s lackluster play during their recent losing streak is easily overshadowed by a season’s worth of terrible performances by the Razorbacks. Missouri should have enough strengths to expose an Arkansas team that has a lot of flaws. In the end, it should be enough for the Tigers to cover the 12-point spread.