Nate Allen is a columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Tigers want what Razorbacks already have
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman (right) speaks with Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz prior to a game Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — All the incentives riding with Arkansas in last Saturday night’s 42-27 victory over Ole Miss seem to ride Friday afternoon with the Missouri Tigers against Arkansas.
Third-year Coach Sam Pittman’s bowl-bound Razorbacks fought for their six-win bowl eligibility lives defeating the 14th-ranked Rebels.
Third-year Coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s Tigers’ last chance for a bowl hinges on Friday's finale.
The Hogs wallow 0-4 on Mizzou turf and 2-2 against the Tigers in Fayetteville and Little Rock since their annual SEC West vs. SEC East game commenced in 2014.
“I know they’re going to be fired up to get bowl eligibility,” Pittman said. “And we haven’t won up there. So, a lot of things.”
And for Arkansas, last year’s 9-4 Outback Bowl champion?
“A lot of things for us to play for, too,” Pittman said. “To continue to rise so our bowl eligibility opens up more bowls for us. Obviously, we can get to 4-4 in conference like we were last year and finish in the top half of the conference like we did a year ago. But, the bottom line is, Missouri is a rivalry game and we need to go play well against a very good football team.”
At times, Missouri (5-6, 3-4 SEC) is a team much like Arkansas (6-5, 3-4).
Arkansas’ season includes wins over then-No. 23 Cincinnati and 14th-ranked Ole Miss and — minus then injured starting quarterback KJ Jefferson — a hard-fought 13-10 loss to SEC West champion LSU.
Both the Hogs and Tigers beat the same South Carolina Gamecocks that last Saturday stunned No. 5 Tennessee, 63-38.
Nobody has played undefeated SEC East champion Georgia closer than Mizzou’s down-to-the-wire, 26-22 loss at Faurot Field.
Pittman cites Mizzou’s improved offense with sophomore Brady Cook’s running quarterback emergence,
Defensively, Mizzou seems designed to combat Arkansas’ bread-and-butter running game.
“They’re going to outnumber you in the box and make you throw the football,” Pittman said.
Good plan, but perhaps not with Mizzou’s history against fourth-year junior Jefferson robustly returning against Ole Miss.
In 2020 vs. Mizzou, starting in place of injured graduate transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks, Jefferson completed 18 of 33 for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns in a wild 50-48 shootout in Columbia.
Last year, starter Jefferson paced Arkansas 34-17 over Mizzou in Fayetteville. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 262 yards and 1 touchdown, and broke a 49-yard run.
“Obviously, this will be the third time that we’ve played against him,” Drinkwitz said. “Golly, I hope he’s graduating or going pro.”
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