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PREGAMIN’ ARKY

SMOKED PORK BELLY, YES PLEASE

♫ Just left Faurot Field, dressin’ up formal ♫

Sometimes you need to make a statement for the brand.

Mizzou will waltz into Reynolds Stadium on Friday already having donned their best uniforms of the year. There’s no topping the drip they rolled out on Senior Night. I’m sorry. It is what it is.

There are ways, however, to keep the spirit of the fit while emphasizing the brand. Mizzou simply swaps last week’s black tops for a gold shirt, making for a black-on-gold-on-black combo that works for the purposes of a rivalry game. When you’re in a recruiting battle ground against a school that’s floundering, best make sure all those high-schoolers know where the real football gets played and what the real ballers wear.

In Case You Missed It...

  • Mizzou will be missing a key component in the secondary — Ennis Rakestraw will be out against Arkansas, meaning he may have played his final game in black and gold against Florida. That is, unless he decides to play the bowl game, which we would endorse!
  • Arkansas is missing two of its best running backs going into the Battle Line game, but could be getting back key pieces in their secondary and on the offensive line.
  • All of the major bowl projections have Mizzou headed to a New Year’s Six bowl, with most analysts pointing to the Cotton or Peach Bowls as likely destinations.

Rock M-ixology

Over the past few years, I’ve done better about over-eating on Thanksgiving. In my younger years, the goal was to get as many plates of food into my face as I possibly could. Now I am older and wiser, and the goal is one full plate and a handful of seconds. I’m all about a Thanksgiving afternoon nap, but I can’t count on those as a given with small children.

What always helps me out is a nice digestif. Something that caps the meal (and dessert) without bloating me up. I’m all about an old fashioned or a manhattan, but this year, I’ll be turning to this tasty little recipe that I happened upon: the (modified) Black Russian.

2 oz vodka, 1 oz coffee liquer (I split the base of this one with 0.5 oz Kahlúa and 0.5 oz Mr. Black), 3 dashes orange bitters, 3 drops 80/20 saline solution

Add ingredients to a mixing class. Stir with ice until chilled. Strain into chilled rocks glass. Garnish with Luxardo cherry.

I’m a big fan of White Russians. I’m not afraid to admit. They taste good. What do you want from me? I’m just a guy who likes edibles and The Big Lebowski like anyone else.

But I have to say, I’ve always been intrigued by the Black Russian. It always struck me as the worst pieces of a WR, the vodka being most dominant. I wondered if maybe I split the coffee base here, half with Kahlúa and half with Mr. Black Cold Brew, and added a few flavor enhancers that I’d end up with something halfway decent.

Turns out I was right! The orange bitters don’t really come through, but they give the drink a nice citrusy zing on the front end, while the vanilla of the Kahlúa really smooths out the cheap vodka (because why would you buy any other kind?). The Mr. Black adds the kick of coffee I was wanting and the alcohol-soaked cherry? [shudder]

A perfect digestif that I’ll definitely be returning to in the future.

Mizzou has had plenty of negative “Mizzou’d” moments in their history, but there are also plenty of good ones! Where does “4th & 17” stand amongst the pantheon of great Mizzou moments (in your opinion)?

Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: I don’t know that we’re talking top five, but I think it’s got a case for Top 10! I think part of the reason I’m hesitant to include it among the most consequential moments in Mizzou history is that, frankly, Florida’s defense kind of sucked. They let Mizzou’s best receiver, the guy that had already torched them for 120-plus yards, stand in the middle of the field and take a pass untouched. If Burden had to fight off a defender or Cook put the ball through a needle, maybe I’d feel a little different. All that being said, it was a huge moment that I’ll remember fondly.

Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: In my short-lived Missouri fandom, it’s top 5, but all-time it is maybe just outside of the top 10 I’d assume. If you’re talking about the best “backs against the wall” moments, then this might be No. 1. Florida had all of the momentum, had been getting pressure in the backfield and Mizzou’s offense seemed a bit out of sorts late in the game. Then, Burden settled into a soft zone, and the ball came soaring to him...

Quentin Corpuel, Staff Writer: It’s definitely in the pantheon! Like Parker, I haven’t followed Mizzou for too long, so my options aren’t as plentiful as most others. Even so, it was a semi-miraculous game-saving play. Those kinds of plays will always rank highly in my book.

I know you’re going to be eating leftovers while you watch the Battle Line game. What’s your Thanksgiving leftover hack... or are you just reheating a full plate?

Josh Matejka: Turkey ramen. Don’t question it. Just try it and thank me later.

Parker Gillam: Only certain things from Thanksgiving are truly great reheated in my eyes. Anything involving green beans, for instance, I can’t go back to. Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, corn casserole are all full-gos. End of the day, pie and turkey sandwiches are mainly what I focus on the day after.

Quentin Corpuel: There are certain things that aren’t very good as leftovers — french fries, for example, usually become sad potato sticks when reheated [editor’s note: clearly, Quentin doesn’t have an air fryer.] With regards to the usual Thanksgiving fixings, I’ll eat pretty much anything as a leftover, so I just try and make the leftovers last as long as possible.

All-SEC teams will be coming out in the next few weeks. Make your case for the players who should be first and second team selections.

Josh Matejka: Distinctions between first and second team are always a little finnicky, so I’ll give you a list of players who should be All-SEC selections regardless: Luther Burden III, Cody Schrader, Kris Abrams-Draine, Darius Robinson. Those four are obvious choices, and I think all should be considered for first team selection.

Now let me give you a list of guys that I could make cases for: Ennis Rakestraw, Javon Foster, Harrison Mevis, Joseph Charleston, Ty’Ron Hopper, and Theo Wease, Jr. I know PFF loves Foster and he will likely be a first or second team selection regardless, but it’s hard for me to judge OL performances outside of PFF grades. Charleston has four defended passes and leads one of the conference’s best defenses in tackles, while Hopper defended three passes, notched three sacks and is just shy of the lead for tackles... despite being hurt for a few games! Rakestraw doesn’t have the numbers of KAD, but defenses have been avoiding him and he’s been a strong tackler. Mevis doesn’t have the percentages of his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he’s clearly got the late-game heroics gene and a leg that no one else in the SEC has. Wease is a real dark horse and I’d frankly be stunned if he made it. But he’s been a revelation as Mizzou’s number two and has a strong narrative case.

Parker Gillam: On the first team, I can see KAD, Cody Schrader, Harrison Mevis and Luther Burden III popping up. They’ve all been able to back up gaudy statistics with eye-popping highlights on a great team, leaving nothing left to be desired as a voter.

On second team, I see Darius Robinson, Ennis Rakestraw and Ty’Ron Hopper being featured. All could have been first team contributors were it not for brief absences due to injury this season, and they also just haven’t had the necessary production to be a first team guy. But, they’ve also all made significant impacts throughout the 2023 campaign and are well-known names in the SEC by this point. Six players on All-SEC teams would not be shabby at all and would likely rank at least top 5 in the SEC.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Florida at Missouri
We all agree: Cody Schrader should be the SEC’s First Team running back

Quentin Corpuel: My no doubt first team selections would be Luther Burden III, Kris Abrams-Draine and Cody Schrader. By “no doubt”, I mean that I would be stunned if they didn’t make first team. Each of them have been arguably the best player at their position in the SEC this season.

The other players I would make arguments for to be All-SEC are Javon Foster, Ty’Ron Hopper, Harrison Mevis, Ennis Rakestraw, Darius Robinson and Theo Wease. The one player I initially thought would be a slam dunk All-SEC selection before writing this was Mevis, as he’s currently tied for the SEC lead in field goals made, has the longest field goal made and multiple game-winners. But Arkansas’ Cam Little has made a higher percentage of his kicks on just four fewer attempts than Mevis (83.3% compared to 78.6%) and has one more made kick from 50+ yards (4) than Mevis (3). Also, Alabama’s Will Reichard has been money (16/18 on field goals) and also has three makes from 50+.

So what’s up with Arky this year? Sam Pittman is coming back, but should he?

Josh Matejka: Your guess is as good as mine! Arkansas had the ingredients to be a scrappy underdog in the SEC West, and KJ Jefferson’s return certainly made it possible they could be more. But they’ve regressed. They are, simply put, not very good anymore! They’re not awful by any means, but the offense has been inconsistent and the defense has been kind of bad. Arkansas seems to think Pittman can right the ship next year (or they don’t want to pay his buyout), but I’m not sure what gives them that confidence. His best season was 9-4 and they’re trending in the wrong direction. It’ll be fascinating to see how they attack the transfer portal this offseason.

Florida International v Arkansas
Is Sam Pittman feeling the heat in Fayetteville? Not this winter!
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Parker Gillam: I thought I had them figured out after that Florida win. The Razorbacks were a team that was far better than its record stated; they had just had been the victim of losing five games by single-digits and not having the ball bounce their way. Then, Auburn beat them 48-10 and proceeded to lose to New Mexico State the following week. So, while I still believe that the Razorbacks are far better than their record states, especially when fully healthy, I’m struggling to understand if they’ve gotten better or worse throughout the year.

In terms of Pittman, I think it’s a good move to keep him. He fielded two quality teams in his first two seasons and, as previously mentioned, this year’s squad could have a flipped record if it wins just a couple more of those swing games. Another year of this and he almost certainly should be gone, but it’d be jumping the gun to get rid of him now.

Quentin Corpuel: I think Pittman deserves to come back for two reasons. One is that Arkansas has had really bad luck in close games. Since Pittman’s first season in 2020, the Razorbacks are 6-14 in one-possession games, with several of those contests coming against really good teams.

The second thing is that this season has, in my eyes, wrongfully overshadowed the foundation Pittman built over his first three seasons in Fayetteville. The post-Petrino years saw a lot of mediocrity and, for a few seasons, way worse than that. After tallying just 11 wins from 2017-20, Pittman helped lead two solid squads in 2021 and 2022. Yes, this year hasn’t been very fun for Arkansas, but letting go of Pittman now would be an overreaction.

Forget the fact that Arkansas is floundering and Mizzou is ascendant: rivalry games are always tight affairs. What will it take for Mizzou to walk out of Fayetteville with their 10th win?

Josh Matejka: Contain KJ Jefferson, please and thank you. Arkansas’s defense is, as I put succinctly above, not good, and Mizzou should have no trouble putting up oodles of points. But we know that Jefferson is a tough customer, and his ability to damage you with his arm and legs will be hard to contain. If Mizzou can make him uncomfortable, they’ll be able to force him into some tough throws, which should lead to turnovers, which should lead to yet another Battle Line win.

Parker Gillam: Toughness, which this team has plenty of. Arkansas — with nothing to lose — is going to try to punch Missouri in the mouth in any way it can on both sides of the ball. In typical rivalry fashion, I’m going to assume that the Razorbacks are going to play one of their better games of the year in this one. As Josh said, containing and, in turn, bringing down KJ Jefferson is key No. 1, but these Tigers better be ready for a motivated Arkansas team that will leave nothing on the field. Something wacky is going to happen, like Schrader not being able to find running room against Arky’s front seven or Cook throwing a pair of INTs... the key will be figuring out how to win in one of those scenarios.

Quentin Corpuel: Win the turnover battle. Turnovers were largely responsible for the wins over Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida as well as the losses against LSU and Georgia. When David takes down Goliath in not just football, but basketball as well, turnovers have been a key factor many times. Ensuring that KJ Jefferson & Co. don’t get any extra opportunities to score will be crucial.