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Missouri-Arkansas Q and A with Jacob Davis of Arkansas Fight

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Sammy Stava and Jacob Davis previewed the Battle Line Rivalry between Missouri and Arkansas on Saturday with a Q and A

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Battle Line Rivalry Week is here as the Missouri Tigers (4-3) host the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-5) on Saturday. Mizzou has won four in a row in this series, but sophomore safety Martez Manuel said this week this is the first time it feels like a legit rivalry. He’s right. as there are plenty of story-lines surrounding this game, including Barry Odom’s much anticipated return to Columbia, Sam Pittman and Eli Drinkwitz in the SEC Coach of the Year race, plus much more.

Kick-off on Saturday is set for 11:00 a.m. CST on the SEC Network. To break down the match up, Sammy Stava and Jacob Davis from Arkansas Fight discussed things over with a Q and A.

Sammy Stava: Arkansas comes in with a 3-5 record, obviously much improved from last season, but the Razorbacks could easily be 5-3 right now, as they lost to Auburn and LSU by a combined five points. How impressed are you with Sam Pittman and did you see this early success coming at all?

Jacob Davis: I really believe Arkansas hired the right man for the job. I was very skeptical at first because Pittman had never been a head coach at the college level since the early 90’s (JUCO) but had plenty of experience as an offensive line coach and some assistant head coaching while at Georgia. I did not see Arkansas winning two games, let alone potentially five! I’m very impressed.

SS: Of course, we need to talk about former Mizzou head coach Barry Odom, as he is one of the big reasons for Arkansas’ success this season on the defensive side of the ball. Do you think Odom should be the front-runner for the Broyles Award?

JD: Barry has worked hard to get a Arkansas back to “normal” on defense. Besides the two games against Florida and Texas A&M, the Razorbacks have looked very good against everyone else. I would definitely say he is in contention but there are plenty of worth candidates.

SS: Through eight games this season, Florida grad transfer Feleipe Franks is 155/228 (68 percent completion percentage), 2017 yards, 17 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 163.4 QBR. How would you grade Franks’ performance so far?

JD: I would grade Franks’ 2020 season so far as an overwhelming A+! He is done everything he is supposed to do while playing at a high level for Arkansas. He’s had a career year as a senior at Arkansas and I am not too sure where the Razorbacks would be without him.

SS: Freshman safety Jalen Catalon, who leads all FBS freshman in tackles this season, is suspended for the first half of this Mizzou game due to a targeting penalty in the LSU. First of all, how bad was that call and how much of an impact absence do you think Catalon’s absence will have on this Arkansas defense?

JD: I think this game could be a high scoring affair. Can Franks have a huge day with his passing game that has come a far way since early in the season. Can Arkansas stop Missouri’s running game? I think both teams will score in the 30s but first one to 40 wins. I say Missouri 41 Arkansas 38.

SS: It’s a battle of first year head coaches in such a strange season, so I wouldn’t call this a must-win game for either team by any means, but do you think this game is bigger for Arkansas than it is for Mizzou? And with Pittman and Drinkwitz both overachieving this year, do you think the winner of this game should be on serious discussion to be in the SEC Coach of the Year consideration?

JD: I believe this game is huge for both teams. Arkansas has the opportunity to go into the offseason (if the Alabama game is cancelled) with a huge swing of momentum. There is nothing like going into the offseason with big MO on your side. The game is also a big one for Coach Drinkwitz and Pittman both because nobody in the SEC expected these two teams to do what they have. I would be willing to bet that the winner of this matchup will be in the top three for SEC Coach of the Year.

SS: As of right now, Mizzou has opened as a 3 point favorite. How do you see this game playing out on Saturday? Have a final score prediction?

JD: I think this game could be a high scoring affair. Can Franks have a huge day with his passing game that has come a far way since early in the season. Can Arkansas stop Missouri’s running game? I think both teams will score in the 30s but first one to 40 wins. I say Missouri 41 Arkansas 38.

Thank you to Jacob for the time on this. You can follow him and Arkansas Fight on Twitter for Razorbacks coverage this week.