Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Razorbacks lose regular-season finale at Missouri
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson, left, runs past Missouri defensive back Jaylon Carlies, right, during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Arkansas is still winless in football games at Missouri.
The Razorbacks lost 29-27 to the Tigers on Friday in the Battle Line Rivalry game to fall to 0-6 all-time in Columbia, Mo., including 0-5 in SEC games played at Faurot Field.
Missouri (6-6, 3-5 SEC) earned bowl eligibility one week after Arkansas did so with a victory at Ole Miss. The Razorbacks (6-6, 3-5) will learn their bowl destination Dec. 4.
Arkansas finished the regular season with losses in three of its last four games — all by three points or less.
The Razorbacks have lost four games by three points or less this season, including in all of their rivalry trophy games against Texas A&M, LSU and Missouri.
"Those close ones, they hurt," Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. "They actually hurt the worst, you know, because you're sitting there and you're thinking maybe we could have done this, maybe we could have done that. And one play you can change the outcome of the game."
The Tigers scored on six of their first seven possessions, including their first two possessions after halftime.
“We wanted it so bad," said Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, who grew up about 40 miles south of Fayetteville in Alma. “We tried not to make it bigger than it was, but we were playing for more.”
Brady Cook threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Luther Burden to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive to begin the third quarter that gave Missouri a 26-21 lead. Harrison Mevis added a 29-yard field goal with 5:32 to play in the third quarter to put the Tigers ahead 29-21.
Cam Little kicked two second-half field goals for the Razorbacks, including a 20-yarder with 12:40 remaining after Arkansas failed to score three times from the Missouri 2-yard line.
The Razorbacks did not gain a first down on their next two drives.
Arkansas began its final drive from its own 20 with 14 seconds remaining following a punt. Quarterback KJ Jefferson threw a 12-yard pass to tight end Trey Knox on the first play of the drive before a failed lateral play ended the game.
The Razorbacks finished with 318 yards of offense, including a season-low 113 yards rushing.
Missouri recorded a season-high seven sacks.
"They whipped us," Pittman said. "They physically dominated us."
Cook completed 16 of 26 passes for 242 yards, rushed 18 times for 138 yards and accounted for 2 touchdowns. He led one of the Tigers’ best offensive performances of the season that totaled 468 yards.
Dominic Lovett had six receptions for 130 yards for Missouri. Cody Schrader rushed 18 times for 87 yards.
Jefferson completed 20 of 27 passes for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was intercepted on the Razorbacks' first drive of the second half. The Tigers held the SEC’s No. 2 rusher, Raheim Sanders, to 47 yards on 10 carries.
Missouri led by as many as 10 points before halftime. Cook’s 9-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter put the Tigers ahead 17-7.
Arkansas answered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Matt Landers that cut Mizzou’s lead to 17-14.
Mevis’ second of three field goals, from 27 yards, put the Tigers ahead 20-14, but Arkansas took a 21-20 halftime lead when Jefferson capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left in the first half.
Missouri improved to 7-2 in games against Arkansas as conference opponents. The Razorbacks won last season to snap a five-game losing streak in the series.
"We’ve got a very disappointed locker room right nowm, and we certainly would like to get this taste out of our mouth in a bowl, but this is going to be hard to get rid of," Pittman said. "We felt like coming in here we were ready to go, ready to play, and physically we just got whipped."
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.