♫ I’m So Sophisticated ♫
[sees the Black Friday game coming up]
[whispering] all blacks, all blacks, all blacks...
[tweet goes up, sees Chad Bailey walking toward the mannequin]
[loudly] All blacks! All blacks! All blacks!
[the cover is torn off revealing...]
[shouting, pounding fists on table] ALL BLACKS! ALL BLACKS! ALL BLACKS!
Battle Line Rivalry Look ...#MIZ pic.twitter.com/qWLbxsL9IS— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) November 23, 2022
You love to see it. I don’t know that this is my favorite iteration of the scripted helmet, but the look is so clean that I’ll still take it over whatever the hell happened last week.
What’s On Tap?
I thought about going with something pork flavored... maybe one of those bacon cup shooters that I’ll see Instagram barbecue chefs do time and again. But that seems like a bit much on the day after thanksgiving. So we’re going with the black theme.
I’ve never used activated charcoal in a drink to turn it black before, but it seems much preferable to using food coloring like some websites suggest. Food coloring tastes horrid if you get it in too big of quantities, and I can’t imagine drinking something with that flavor. So instead, I’m using this recipe for the Black Widow Cocktail from Aimee Mars which sounds like a heavenly little afternoon beverage that maintains the spirit of the day. You always love something with a little Creme de Cassis.
2 ounces Vodka
3 ounces Cream de Cassis
1 ounce Kahlua
½ teaspoon Activated Charcoal (optional, but c’mon)
1 ounce Ginger Beer
Pour the vodka, cream de cassis, activated charcoal, and Kahlua into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass.
Splash the top of the cocktail with the ginger beer and garnish with blackberries.
Know Thy Enemy
Oh, we know Arkansas plenty well at this point. We know their coaches. We know their players. We know their stupid pig logo and the terrible chant they do. If my school told me to “call the hogs,” I’d eat a box of nails.
Regardless, we should still know a little bit more about their football team before we dive into the game on Friday. It’ll be a strength-on-strength and weakness-on-weakness matchup, which should make for a pretty lively little encounter.
On defense, Barry Odom’s boys are a-struggling. It’s the worst Odom defense since he arrived in Fayetteville, partially due to some injury and suspension issues. And while they’re not great at stopping the pass (aside from big plays, whew!), they’re especially not great at stopping the run. Do you think that makes Eli Drinkwitz happy, Nate?
Once again Eli Drinkwitz can enter his offensive meeting with a big stupid smile on his face as he can encourage Bush Hamdan to call 40 runs and not worry about the results. Arkansas’ rushing defense currently ranks 105th in the country, allowing a 47% success rate on the ground, at least 4-yards per carry 50% of the time, and one of the worst frequencies of allowing big plays to runners. Cody Schrader better eat his Wheaties this week and increase his stretching regimen because he’s going to get utilized a ton, and probably to good effect.
Cody Schrader field day incoming?
Arkansas is much better on offense, ranking 18th overall. That’s slightly better than where Mizzou sits on the defensive rankings, so it’ll be imperative for the Tigers to slow the game down on offense. When the defense is on the field however, they’ll need to do create chaos and generate some turnovers out of said chaos.
If Missouri’s havoc rate is below 19% they get blown out (see: Kansas State, Tennessee). Finishing over 20% doesn’t guarantee a win but, considering that only two losses that have been by more than one score both coincided with a havoc rate well below 19%, it’s pertinent to keep the havoc high. The only team Missouri has beaten that ranks better than 80th in SP+ is South Carolina and they won that comfortably thanks to a 42% havoc rate. A similar performance will be needed here.
Mizzou getting the game at home should help matters. The crowd may not be as big as we’ve been seeing all season, but Missouri folk can get rowdy no matter the numbers. I’m itching to buy those tickets to Shreveport boys, let’s lock ‘em in!
Saturday night was so much fun. Comfortable win on senior night, a bunch of young guys got to play... good vibes all around. In a game that mostly ran on auto-pilot, what stood out to you the most?
Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: Brady Cook’s continued improvement. Yeah, yeah, it was New Mexico State, but Cook has strung together a couple of solid weeks of play now. He looks far more comfortable within the offense and has been able to consistently find playmakers downfield as of late. His legs have proven to the X-Factor for this offense at times, and he will need to carry it at least 10 times for the Tigers to beat Arkansas in my opinion.
Sammy Stava, Staff Writer: The underclassmen got to see some playing time, though it was only a drive for Sam Horn. I liked seeing Ryan Hoerstkamp get his first touchdown of his career. Luther Burden did Luther Burden things — and a Daylan Carnell pick six was fun. As Parker said, Cook is getting better — 5 TD passes and zero INTs his last two games.
Overall, it was a game where they needed to win comfortably, and they did.
Dan Keegan, Football Contributor: Luther Burden’s second touchdown made me gasp. Not the one where he eschewed his carefully crafted blocking and ran around everyone. No, the one where he took the little shovel pass around the left end, looked hemmed in, and then appeared to teleport into the end zone about ten yards away. What?
Fans on both sides of the Battle Line Rivalry like to pretend that the game doesn’t mean anything... and yet Razorback fans can’t stand Eli Drinkwitz, Barry Odom hopped to Arky and took some recruits with him after getting canned and Missouri fans find every opportunity to highlight the “kansas” in Arkansas. Is this a real rivalry at this point, is it getting there or do you still think this is just another game?
Parker Gillam: It’s a rivalry purely off the geography and personnel similarities these schools have. They recruit the same areas and have fans stationed in each state, making it a big game for region recognition if anything. The old-Southwest ties also play a factor.
So, yes, it’s a rivalry game. It it hate-fueled and incredibly intense between the schools themselves? No. But, this game always tends to carry a lot of important and is generally tightly-contested. That classifies as a rivalry game in my book.
Sammy Stava: Yeah, I think you can call this a rivalry game by now. Obviously, it’s not up there with Ohio State-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn — but there’s some intriguing storylines to this year’s game with Barry Odom returning to Columbia. At the end of the regular season, this usually ends up meaning something for both teams.
It’s got a name and a trophy involved which is also played on Black Friday. That’s good enough for me.
Dan Keegan: It’s a rivalry. There is enough recruiting and geographic overlap. Because we are peer programs playing in the last week of the season, the game usually has some sort of postseason stakes. But I will say that I don’t personally carry much hatred for Arkansas. Sam Pittman is a joy, and his teams are fun to watch. I really liked some Arkansas teams (the McFadden teams, the Ryan Mallet teams) before we joined God’s Own Conference. I have developed much more animosity to a pair of SEC East programs at a far greater rate than against Arkansas. But it is absolutely a rivalry.
Friday’s game represents Mizzou’s last shot at securing bowl eligibility outside of APR shenanigans. And while Arkansas did put the boots on Ole Miss, they’ve mostly been just OK this season. Will your view of Mizzou’s season hinge on whether or not they can win the Battle Line game and grab a legitimate bowl berth?
Parker Gillam: I’ve already got my opinion of how Mizzou’s football program is going forward. With the Drinkwitz and Baker extensions, this administration is all-in on them. Drinkwitz will get his opportunity to develop his recent great recruits, and I’ve already seen enough signs this season to know that this program is trending in a positive direction. So no, this game will not change that.
What it will change, though, is whether or not this season is considered a disappointment. I had the Tigers pegged at 6-6 in the preseason, and despite how much they have struggled at times this season, they still have a shot at getting there. Beating your rival in the final game of the season to clinch a bowl-berth would be huge for offseason momentum and continuing to develop some of the youth on this roster. A win here can entirely flip the fan perspective of the 2022 Missouri Tigers.
Sammy Stava: This is what Mizzou is playing for at this point, and it would salvage an otherwise disappointing season. Even at .500, getting to legitimate bowl eligibility three years in a row would be big for a rebuilding program.
If it wasn’t for the bowl ban in 2019 and COVID cancellation in 2020, Mizzou would have a streak of five straight bowl appearances with a chance for a sixth. That’s not nothing.
A loss to Arkansas wouldn’t exactly make this a disastrous season because this was a really tough schedule, but a step back in Eli Drinkwitz’s third season isn’t ideal. Overall, find a way to get to (and win) a bowl game to finish over .500. That would be legitimate progress.
Dan Keegan: No, because the team’s three losses in winnable close games have already defined the season. With 9-3 on the table, the Tigers instead snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Florida, Auburn, and Kentucky; to do so against Arkansas would be par for the course in 2022.
But it will change how we have to talk about this team in the offseason. Those close to the team can see the real progress Drinkwitz has made in talent acquisition and in hiring. A break-through could be imminent, and a bowl game (and maybe even win) would make that more visible to those with a more bird’s eye view.
But a 5-7 finish? We will be battling the sidewalk supporters and sycophants all summer.
PICK ‘EM! Arkansas is the slightest of favorites in Columbia, and we know this game will likely end up being close. Can the Tigers sneak out their sixth win? If so, who’s going to be the hero on Black Friday?
Parker Gillam: I’ve been known to pick against Mizzou fairly frequently this year. Let’s change that. I’ve got Mizzou winning 27-24, but it is going to take a lot. KJ Jefferson looked 100 percent healthy last week, and the duo of him and Rocket Sanders in the backfield is a nightmare to defend, even for Mizzou’s vaunted defense. Baker can prove he earned that extension by scheming up a plan to contain their explosive offense, because they can not afford to get into a shootout.
On the other side, it’s going to be down to Brady Cook again. The Razorbacks have struggled to defend the pass all season but are solid against the run, meaning that Cook needs to have one of the better games of his career. If he can go for over 250 yards, no turnovers, and run the ball well, then this game will be going in the win column.
Cook will be the MVP, and thus win back the Tiger fan base and enter the 2023 offseason as the favorite to win the QB job again.
Sammy Stava: Mizzou is playing for a bowl game and Arkansas has already clinched that — meaning Missouri has more to play for. The Tigers are also at home, where they are 4-2 with four-point losses to Georgia and Kentucky.
While the Razorbacks did win convincingly in an impressive victory last week over Ole Miss, they have also lost to Texas A&M and Liberty. They are obviously better with KJ Jefferson at QB, but they’re also beatable.
Mizzou finds a way to win. 24-20. Big game from Brady Cook.
Dan Keegan: Missouri’s defensive line needs to be heroic. They need to stop running plays in their tracks, and not let the bruising runners Rocket Sanders and KJ Jefferson into Mizzou’s second and third levels. The Tiger defense has not been great against mobile quarterbacks this season — now would be a good time for their best effort in containing scrambles.
Javon Foster and Armand Membou need to be excellent against Arkansas’s Drew Sanders. His midseason slump is over, and Sanders has been back to terrorizing SEC quarterbacks in recent weeks. He can not be allowed to single-handedly put Missouri behind the sticks or force a Brady Cook turnover.
Missouri is a pretty consistent outfit. But which Arkansas shows up? The one that dismantled BYU and Ole Miss, or the one that struggled at home with Liberty and Missouri State?
Let’s say it’s the latter and Missouri wins 19-13. Four Thiccer Kicker field goals and a Luther Burden score.