Some would argue that the Battle Line Rivalry is a top-tier series due to the growing hatred between Missouri and Arkansas’ fan bases and the plethora of memorable games that have happened in its history.
Others would argue that the Battle Line Rivalry is a forced series between two programs that don’t have all that much history with each other and just needed someone to dislike in the SEC so they wouldn’t feel left out.
In the end, none of those people matter. These two teams play each other every single year, and it is generally a game that has a heavy impact on how successful one’s season is.
In a series that dates back to 1906, Missouri leads 9-4, with the 2016 Tiger win technically being ruled null and void by the NCAA. Since joining the SEC, Mizzou is 6-2 against the Hogs to the south.
Let’s take a look back at some of the Tigers’ best wins in this series’ somehow both long and short history.
The 2008 Cotton Bowl
No. 6 Missouri 38 | No. 25 Arkansas 7
Key Moment: William Moore’s 26-yard interception return TD in the third quarter.
Missouri’s MVP: Tony Temple (24 carries, 281 rushing yards, 4 TDs)
We’ll begin this list with a game from before Mizzou joined the glorious Southeastern Conference for athletics.
The Tigers entered this game a bit dejected, having recently fallen to No. 9 Oklahoma 38-17 in the Big 12 title game when a shot at the BCS National Championship Game was well within reach. The Tigers were snubbed for the Orange Bowl by Kansas, who they had beaten just over a month prior. Arkansas entered this game riding high after a 50-48 upset victory over No. 1 LSU to close the regular season, and the backfield tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones was tearing through defenses left and right.
Thus, there was legitimate reason for Mizzou to come out flat in this one, but Gary Pinkel motivated his team to put on a show in a state that was a major recruiting target at the time and features a large black and gold alumni base.
Mizzou jumped out to a 14-0 halftime lead thanks to a pair of Arkansas missed field goals and some elite running from Tony Temple. The Tigers scored on their opening drive of the second half, and after the two sides traded punts and fumbles, a 26-yard pick-six from William Moore iced the game.
Temple’s 40-yard scamper for a score in the fourth quarter put an exclamation point on a dominant performance from the Tigers, proving that they were deserving of a spot in the Orange Bowl. Chase Daniel may have played one of the worst games of his Missouri career (partially due to high winds), but it didn’t matter. Temple ran wild and the defense held a normally dynamic Arkansas rushing attack to just 164 yards and forced a whopping five turnovers.
The win was a perfect cap to an incredible year from Missouri, but the general post-season consensus among the fan base was “What if?”
(Jan 1, 2008) Cotton Bowl— Autumn 11 CFB (@Autumn_Eleven) December 4, 2020
11-2 Missouri blew out 8-4 Arkansas who just beat the eventual national champion LSU pic.twitter.com/Cd5WaBYnc9
Tigers clinch the SEC East yet again in 2014
No. 17 Missouri 21 | Arkansas 14
Key Moment: Alex Collins’ fumble with 2:13 remaining in the game.
Missouri’s MVP: Bud Sasser (9 catches, 127 yards)
All Missouri needed to do was take down lowly 6-5 Arkansas to clinch its second-straight SEC Championship Game appearance.
Instead, in the first annual meeting between these schools, the Razorbacks made sure the Tigers knew that this rivalry series would not be for the faint of heart. The upset-minded Hogs claimed a 14-3 lead at halftime, with the Arkansas rushing attack finding plenty of success and Mizzou’s offense stuck in neutral for much of the half.
The third quarter was scoreless, and unrest began to develop in Columbia while those in Athens began to hope. But, the 2014 squad seemed to play at its best when it was most doubted, and the team played lights out in the fourth quarter to rally. When Pinkel and Co. needed it most, Maty Mauk, Bud Sasser and Russell Hansbrough led a pair of 85+ yard scoring drives which took up nearly 10 minutes of game time. They were the Tigers’ only two drives of the final frame, but that was all it took.
Following a 12-yard TD run from Marcus Murphy, Arkansas made it all the way to the Tiger 35-yard line in an effort to tie things up. Instead, Alex Collins fumbled, and Mizzou drained the clock from there.
It was not a pretty win by any stretch of the imagination, but in such a tough year within the SEC (six teams finished with at least eight wins), you took a victory any way you could get it. When the clock hit zeroes, the city of Athens wept while Columbia celebrated yet another SEC East crown.
Fireworks in 2017
Missouri 48 | Arkansas 45
Key Moment: Tucker McCann’s game-winning FG as time expired
Missouri’s MVP: Drew Lock (448 passing yards, 5 TDs, 26 rushing yards)
Compared to the previously listed games, this one did not carry nearly the same amount of national implications. But, as great rivalries do, it still delivered a memorable matchup.
Outside of Mizzou’s first drives of each half resulting in interceptions, unstoppable offense was the name of the game in this one. Neither defense knew how to handle the opposing team’s balanced offensive attack, allowing Arkansas to score 21 points in the opening quarter before Mizzou responded with 24 in the second. The Tigers faced a 14-point deficit on two different occasions in the first half, but they reeled off 17-straight points to close the half and claim a 31-28 lead going into the break.
The Razorbacks reclaimed the lead late in the third quarter thanks to a 28-yard TD run from Devwah Waley. From there, Drew Lock and Austin Allen began a fourth-quarter duel, trading touchdowns before Arkansas kicker Connor Limpert hit a field goal to knot the game up at 45 with five minutes remaining.
A Paul Adams false start on Mizzou’s next drive was a rough start, but Lock willed his team down the field with a couple of key completions. The Tiger rushing attack was able to salt the game way before setting up Tucker McCann—who had already hit a 37-yarder as time expired in the first half—for a game-winning field goal from 19-yards out. The kick sailed through the uprights, and Mizzou was able to claim its first-ever win over the Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
More Fireworks In 2020
Missouri 50 | Arkansas 48
Key Moment: The legend of the Thiccer Kicker begins.
Missouri’s MVP: Larry Roundtree III (27 carries, 185 yards, 3 TDs)
In Eliah Drinkwitz’ first season at the helm, Mizzou quietly shocked the SEC by going 5-5 against an all-conference schedule.
One of those five wins came in dramatic fashion against the Razorbacks in front of roughly 11,000 fans at a COVID-impacted Faurot Field.
Despite its 3-5 record, Arkansas featured an offense with a plethora of offensive talent, and it showcased that in this one. A young KJ Jefferson finished with over 300 yards of offense and four TDs, Trelon Smith ran for 172 and three scores and future Tennessee Titan Treylon Burks was unstoppable, hauling in 10 passes for 206 yards and a tuddie.
21 second quarter points from the visitors allowed Arkansas to claim a 27-20 lead at the break, but after a third quarter full of field goals, the Tiger offense really hit its stride in the final frame. The Hogs’ defense was incapable of bringing down Larry Roundtree III on this day, and current Bowling Green quarterback Connor Bazelak added 380 yards through the air in one of his better overall performances with Mizzou.
The Tigers needed all 27 of their fourth quarter points to win this one. Facing a 40-26 deficit with just over 13 minutes remaining, Mizzou scored on its final four drives. Tyler Badie’s 25-yard touchdown run with 4:47 remaining gave the Tigers a 47-40 lead and swung momentum firmly in their favor.
However, Jefferson began a long career of clutch play with a signature scoring drive, finding Mike Woods for a 14-yard score to calm things down. Then, the Hogs got aggressive and converted a two-point conversion after multiple Missouri defenders had a chance at intercepting the ball. The life was sucked out of Faurot, and all seemed lost with 43 seconds left.
But, Bazelak peppered the ball to Barrett Banister (shocker) and Damon Hazelton for four 10+ yard completions, setting a young Harrison Mevis up for a game-winning field goal. He nailed the 32-yarder, immediately becoming a campus hero.
I can’t recall exactly, but it seems like he’s hit a couple other game-winners in his time as a Tiger...
Missouri was down 40-26 going into the 4th quarter, they ended up winning the game 50-48 over Arkansas— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) December 5, 2020
Harrison Mevis : 5/5 on FG's & 5/5 on extra points (Game-winning 32-yard FG as time expired) pic.twitter.com/8eHTKUYXMr
Brady Cook’s Coming Out Party in 2022
Missouri 29 | Arkansas 27
Key Moment: Cook’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Luther Burden III to begin the third quarter.
Missouri’s MVP: Brady Cook (242 passing yards, 138 rushing yards, 2 TDs)
It was a game that Eliah Drinkwitz, Brady Cook and this Missouri football program just had to have.
Facing the possibility of regressing from the previous season’s win total, the Tigers had to take down their rivals in the final game of the regular season to qualify for a bowl game.
Boy, did they play like it.
Mizzou dropped 20 points in the first half, with Cook showing that he would not hold anything back in this one. He was lighting up the Razorback secondary while putting his body on the line when he got out of the pocket, and it led to his best performance of the season. Cody Schrader added on 87 rushing yards, Dominic Lovett paced the receivers with 130 yards and the defense forced a pair of Arkansas turnovers.
Cook found Luther Burden III for a score to open the second half following a 75-yard drive, giving the Tigers a 26-21 lead (missed two-point conversion). From there, Mizzou just had to survive, and it just managed to do so thanks to some stout defense that prevented Arkansas from reaching the end zone in the second half.
After being much-maligned throughout the season, Cook put most of his doubters to bed while simultaneously clinching a bowl berth for his team and cooling the seat of his head coach. Not a bad day at the office.