Last Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference announced in a news release the two permanent opponents for each of its 16 member schools that will participate in the 2025 baseball season.
For Missouri, these two teams are Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“The permanent SEC baseball opponents were determined based on a number of factors including geography, traditional opponents and strength of schedule,” the SEC said in the news release.
All 16 teams will play 30 conference games but will have eight rotating series instead of four like in seasons past.
For the Tigers, I think this is about what you would ask for if you could pick your two opponents. Mizzou has very few true rivals in baseball, and in this new setup, it won’t be forced to face the likes of Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and South Carolina every year.
Perhaps the only way this announcement could’ve gone more favorably for Missouri is if it had drawn Kentucky. However, things exactly haven’t been easy sledding for the Tigers against the Wildcats in recent years either. Last season, UK swept Mizzou.
I also think Missouri fans have a larger disdain for Arkansas and Oklahoma, so a little extra hatred can always help when trying to spice up what has been a mundane last decade of Mizzou baseball.
With all this being said if I could pick two permanent SEC opponents for Missouri, OU and Arkansas are the two I would’ve chosen.
The Hogs are the big dog of the two permanent teams for Missouri. They’ve made a regional 20 of the last 21 full seasons and seven trips to Omaha in that same time frame. However, if you’ve ever had a conversation with an Arkansas baseball fan, you might be shocked to find out that the Razorbacks have never actually won a national championship. They’ll tell you they’re a blue blood, but personally I like my blue boods to come with championships.
Anyway, it’s probably time to get back on topic here. Even for all the shots I like to take at Arkansas for never winning the big one, it’s still a very successful baseball program. Perennially, the Hogs contend to host a regional and are near the top of the SEC standings. In contrast, the last time Missouri made a regional was in 2012 when it was playing in the Big 12.
Since Mizzou joined the SEC, the Razorbacks have unsurprisingly handled the Tigers. Missouri is just 4-11 against Arkansas since joining the SEC, but MU does lead the all-time series 36-30-1. The lone SEC series the Tigers topped the Hogs was in 2016 which was also the only time Arkansas has missed a regional since 2002.
So what does this all mean? Well, Missouri probably has one automatic series loss penciled into its schedule most years. But hey, if Kerrick Jackson can get things going in the right direction, having a regular opponent that you’re chasing and finally beating will feel oh so sweet.
Former Missouri and current Arkansas outfielder Ty Wilmsmeyer also made some comments following his transfer last summer that will surely spice up future matchups between the two teams.
“I’m not saying (having baseball success) can’t be done at Missouri, but with the administration not willing to really fund the baseball program and make it a successful, high-level program, it will be a tough job at Missouri, for sure,” Wilmsmeyer told Best of Arkansas Sports. “Arkansas has invested a lot in their baseball program and has a lot backing that program.”
While OU certainly hasn’t had the consistent recent success that Arkansas has, the Sooners are no slouch (and they actually have a couple national championships). Most college baseball fans remember the Sooners’ rather odd run to the CWS Finals in 2022, but OU has also made a regional 15 times and another CWS since 2000. Since 2012, the last time Missouri made a regional, OU has made five.
There is little doubt who the better program is right now.
While OU might be the one moving conferences, Mizzou obviously has a much longer history with the Sooners than the Razorbacks. Missouri is 110-153 against the Sooners all-time with most of those matchups coming in Big 8 and Big 12 games. The Tigers did get the last laugh over the Sooners in 2012 when they won 8-7 in the Big 12 tournament championship game before heading off to the SEC.
Since Missouri moved to the SEC, the Tigers and Sooners have faced each other just twice, splitting the two meetings. Missouri topped the Sooners 8-7 in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic during COVID-shortened 2020 season at Minute Maid Park. But a little more than a year to the date later, Oklahoma got its revenge with a 16-6 win in the Frisco College Baseball Classic.
I actually think this series could shape up pretty evenly as OU transitions to a deeper baseball conference. The Big 12 at the top is always elite, but the bottom of the SEC is much stronger. It’ll definitely be a story to follow to see where OU and Missouri find themselves on the totem pole of SEC Baseball as OU joins the conference and MU begins the Kerrick Jackson era.
After football season and as diamond sport season nears, we will have plenty more coverage here at Rock M. You can follow me on Twitter @KortayVincent for more MU Baseball updates, too.