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Pregamin’ Arkansas

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IT’S BLACK FRIDAY AND WE’RE WINDING DOWN THE SEASON WITH SOME HAWG LEFTOVERS. LET’S PREGAME ONCE MORE FOR THE SENIORS

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” Barry Odom shouts at his doubters
Josh Matejka

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What the “Experts” are Saying

After last week’s thorough dismantling of Tennessee, there was a lot of talk about Derek Dooley getting some revenge on his old team. In his first year as offensive coordinator, what kind of impression has he made on you?

Jack Parodi, Football Beat Writer: If you asked me this after the Kentucky game, my answer would have been that he’s not the best play-caller and made this offense far less explosive than it should be. But now after the past three weeks, I think Dooley’s system is finally starting to click with the players as of late. He’s given me a lot of promise for years to come.

Chris Bohkay, Featured Writer: I have to say, outside of the headscratching choices of the second half against UK, he’s been fine. He’s using the RBs well and lengthening the game in a way that Heupel did not, which I think benefits this version of the Mizzou offense. That said, I’m still reserving judgement until next year when he’s potentially working without an all-world quarterback under center, which I think should give us a clearer picture of how he handles the responsibilities of his position.

Josh Matejka, Editor: I’ve been pretty impressed with Dooley’s version of the offense, and most of it comes from his ability to pace this explosive offense. Josh Heupel’s version knew only one mode — GOTTAGOFAST! — and Dooley has been able to temper a powerful air attack with an even more powerful ground game. It allows Missouri to dominate time of possession (30:56 per game against the opponents’ 29:04 average), and gives the defense time to rest and get coached up by my guy Ryan Walters.

Two years in a row we’ve had a lot to be thankful for going into the Battle Line game as Barry Odom’s teams have shown a knack for playing in November. Which victory over the past two years have you been most thankful for?

Jack Parodi: By far this year’s win against Florida. Being able to see Drew Lock and Barry Odom finally get over the hump and beat a ranked team by thumping the Gators on the road was all too satisfying. It helped make those brutal losses to Georgia in 2016 and Kentucky this year a thing of the past. For the first time in about four or so years, Missouri fans were proud to be Tigers.

Chris Bohkay: That’s a tough one — it’s between last year’s Arkansas game and this year’s Florida game. I love road wins and both have that. Arkansas is our new rival and people on their side were plenty pissed with how that game ended, but I think the edge goes to this year’s win at Florida. Florida is a ranked win on the road and it was a thorough dismantling. Last year’s win over Arkansas was a beating of a bad team with a coach about to be fired so it’s got a little less cache. Plus, any win (road or away) over a traditional SEC power looks good on the resume and it pisses off all the people that say Mizzou shouldn’t be in the SEC (looking at you Vols fans).

Josh Matejka: There are a lot of good options on the list (last year and 2016 against Arkansas, any win against Tennessee), but it has to be this year against Florida. The Gators are a legitimate New Year’s Six bowl team, and Missouri took them to the cleaners on their own field during their homecoming game. Aside from the narrative of that game — Barry Odom and Drew Lock finally getting the big win that so long evaded them — it was just a delightful game to watch.

Missouri isn’t quite done yet as they still have to knock off an admittedly struggling Razorbacks team on Black Friday. How can Missouri make sure this game is in the bag early?

Jack Parodi: Put up points whenever Arkansas starts getting any momentum and stop the running game. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do either, as Missouri should cruise right by the Razorbacks to an 8-4 record and an end-of-the-year Top 25 ranking.

Chris Bohkay: You break their will early, something Mizzou has had trouble doing all year. They crushed Tennessee and Florida, but both were still games going into the second half. So I’d like to see the offense and defense work to make this a laugher by half time. Keep the Arkansas D off balance with the run-pass combo that’s been working well of late and have the D-Line just blitz little Ty Storey into hearing footsteps and early picks. A special team’s TD wouldn’t hurt either. But break them, break them with a crazy blitz package from all angles and then have Drew and the offense, [insert GP voice] do what they do.

Josh Matejka: The offense has to put this game to bed early. Arkansas’ offense isn’t going to just roll over in a rivalry game, but the defense should have no way to stop the Tiger offense from scoring. Out sprint them early, and take away any hope of a comeback by keeping the foot on the pedal until the fourth quarter.

PICK ‘EM! Let’s get a score prediction and which leftovers you’ll be snacking on during the game.

Jack Parodi: Missouri 56, Arkansas 24. I’ll be chowing down on some leftover stuffing while Drew Lock comes out with an easy victory in his final game in CoMo.

Chris Bohkay: Mizzou 52 - Arkansas 12. A thorough beating! For me, I will get up early Friday, head to the grocery store and pick up a discounted turkey and remake Thanksgiving dinner to be done right in time for kick off, so I’ll be doing the whole thing again, won’t be hitting the leftovers until later in the night as my family refuses to let me take leftovers from the main meal at my mother’s house... seriously, what’s that about?

Josh Matejka: I’m not as convinced this will be a blow out even with the optics as they are. However, Arkansas shouldn’t be able to overcome the talent deficiency when they’re missing two of their top defensive backs. Missouri cruises in the second half, 48-27.