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PREGAMIN’ ARKANSAS

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HOG’S COMIN’, LET’S START A FIRE AND HAVE OURSELVES A ROAST!

Keep Calm and Wear a Mask

All Aboard the Hype Train

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

I think the only difference between last week and this week are the Tiger stripse on the pants. There may be something else, but it’s largely the same all-black uni with the Block M.

Also, I love the “narrative” of this video. I’ll miss Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe like none other.

What the “Experts” are Saying

There’s probably not a lot to take away from last week’s win other than the fact that Missouri beat the pants off an overmatched and checked out team with its coach on the way out. But if you look at the margins, what’s something that encouraged you about the shutout of Vandy?

Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: The return of Larry Borom and Xavier Delgado confirmed something for me that had been percolating since the LSU win — the offensive line is actually pretty good! Rather, they’re good when they’re healthy. One of the popular post-game narratives last week was, “getting the RBs going gets the whole offense going,” but Larry Rountree and Tyler Badie are also dependent on their line to open things up. With Borom and Delgado in place, the front five proved they are able to push around weaker squads and open up the offense for Missouri’s backfield duo.

Nate Edwards, Football Editor: While I am incredibly hesitant to take anything away from a beatdown of an overmatched and uninterested opponent, the offensive line looked damn good and its hard to ignore that it was the first game back in a month for Larry Borom and Xavier Delgado. Borom was absolutely dominant in run blocking and Rountree’s second touchdown was made possible by Delgado demolishing the left side of the defense. This week’s game will be a much better assessment of the level these two are at but on Saturday they showed how vital they were to overall offensive line competency.

The dominant narrative about this week’s game is sitting right on the surface - Barry Odom is facing the program that fired him and the coach who replaced him. Who’s more motivated to beat their former partner - Barry or the Tigers?

NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka: Maybe there’s some doubt here for someone, but I have no lingering assumptions to the contrary — Barry Odom would give anything to beat Missouri this week. I don’t necessarily think he harbors ill will toward his former players, who clearly still believed in him while the ship was sinking. But he certainly harbors some toward Jim Sterk and is still probably a bit sore with Eli Drinkwitz. After all, Sterk dumped Odom due to (reportedly) a wretched working relationship, then narrowly avoided disaster when a few key boosters stepped in and saved his nearly-disastrous coaching search. I can’t imagine it’s easy to lose your job and then realize that your former boss didn’t have much of a plan in place — he just didn’t like you very much. All of that, combined with the fact that Odom is a massively passionate guy, will have him rearing at the bit to give Mizzou an L.

Nate Edwards: This is easy: Barry wants to win this one way more than the players want to beat Barry. To me, that’s why the players specifically spoke up this week when saying that the best thing they can do to respect Odom and what he did for them is to treat this game like a Super Bowl and dominate. You don’t have to say that if the motivation is already there. And, to be clear, Odom doesn’t want to beat Missouri because he hates the school or the players. No, he wants to win so he can run it in Jim Sterk’s face, especially if the rumor mill is true in saying that those two did not have a, “positive working relationship.” Drinkwitz will never admit, I would imagine, that he’ll feel pressure to win this one to show that he’s the upgrade we all think he is. Meanwhile, I just have this scary image in my head of Barry, red-eyed and crazy, losing nights of sleep, sitting in a cold, dark film room, scheming something up to counter all of Drink’s plays and just counting down the minutes until he can unleash hell on Sterk’s new guy.

Arkansas is only 3-5 on the season, but has played in a lot of close games and ranks ahead of Missouri in SP+. Name one area where Missouri has an advantage over the Hogs and one where they’re at a disadvantage.

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

Josh Matejka: Fortunately for Missouri, their biggest advantage comes at a position of strength: the running game. Arkansas’ defense, despite some spectacular improvement under Odom, isn’t great against the run. They don’t let up a lot of explosive plays, but they’re not going to stuff you a lot. Once again, expect a heavy dose of Larry Rountree.

I’m not sure this qualifies as a disadvantage per se, but I don’t love the idea of, as Nate put it, Arkansas being a rich man’s Vanderbilt i.e. dependent on short plays that become explosive. Missouri has struggled to contain athletic receivers this year (curse you, Kadarius Toney), and Arkansas has a few on hand. Fortunately, Arkansas doesn’t take a lot of deep shots, so Missouri will be able to lean on the linebackers a little more than usual. But it could be a long day for Missouri’s secondary if they can’t contain Arkansas’ weapons.

Nate Edwards: Odom’s defense has been lauded for its improvement but a.) this was one of the worst P5 defenses in the country last year so any improvement would be massively noticeable, and b.) they’re still not super great, currently ranking 50th. Odom has successfully taken away all big plays from every offense they’ve faced but that comes at the cost of giving up a lot of easy plays underneath. Larry should find plenty of opportunities to introduce himself to Grant Morgan and the Razorback front seven in order to open up Tyler and Jalen in space. Arkansas doesn’t have any answer if they can’t turn you over or you refuse to take big chances, a recipe that Missouri has shown they can cook with.

On the flip side, Missouri’s secondary is young and talented but can be beat. Arkansas has two receivers — Mike Woods and former blue-chipper Treylon Burks — who have combined for nearly 40% of all receiving targets. If you can stop them, the Razorback offense is toast, but they have consistently found ways to get open and cause pain. We’ll see if Ware and Rakestraw et al can hang with these two but they’ve shown a propensity of getting burned by talent.

PICK ‘EM! Missouri has held steady most of the week as a 3-point favorite. That seems like an untouchable line. But putting all your chips on the table — can the Tigers get it done?

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka: Like Lloyd Christmas, I was way off in calling Mizzou vs. Vanderbilt last week, even if Missouri did end up taking home a win. Even I was on a hot streak, though, I wouldn’t touch Missouri -3 with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. When Missouri and Arkansas are even somewhat evenly matched, this always turns out to be a pretty close game. Arkansas grades out better in terms of the advanced numbers, but Missouri is four out of their last five. I still think there’s another step for the offense to take, and why not take it in the Battle Line Rivalry? I wouldn’t bet it, but Missouri wins 31-27.

Nate Edwards: Since moving to the SEC in 2012, here are the finishes of the Battle Line Trophy presented by Shelter Insurance:

  • 2014: Missouri 21 - Arkansas 14
  • 2015: Missouri 3 - Arkansas 28
  • 2016: Missouri 28 - Arkansas 24
  • 2017: Missouri 48 - Arkansas 45
  • 2018: Missouri 38 - Arkansas 0
  • 2019: Missouri 24 - Arkansas 14

Add that up and you get Missouri 162 - Arkansas 125, an average of Missouri 27 - Arkansas 21(ish). I’ll say it’s closer than that this season, probably something like Missouri 24 - Arkansas 21. So, no, I’m not betting money on this and you shouldn’t either, you degenerate gamblers. But wow do I really hope the Tigers win this game. I’m terrified of what a scorned Barry Odom will do...