Arkansas vs. Missouri Advance

FAYETTEVILLE – Instead of the Battle Line Rivalry, perhaps Saturday’s Arkansas vs. Missouri football game should be titled “The War Within the States.”
Or maybe even the Benedict Arnold Bowl given the number of Arkansans competing for Mizzou and Missourians competing for the Razorbacks.
Saturday’s SEC contest between the Razorbacks, 3-5, and Missouri’s Tigers, 4-3, kicks off at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network at Mizzou’s Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.
Benedict Arnold Bowl stretches veracity, given some Missourians at Arkansas and Arkansans at Missouri ended up with no choice between the two.
The Arkansas/Missouri intertwining starts with the head coaches, first-year Mizzou coach and Arkansan from Alma Eliah Drinkwitz, and Arkansas first-year coach Sam Pittman, a high school head coach from 1987-90 in Missouri at Princeton and Trenton and who called Mizzou home for the 2000 season among the 10 college teams for whom he coached offensive lines.
It most manifests with first-year Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom as a Mizzou grad and linebacker and former Missouri defensive coordinator become Mizzou head coach 2016-2019 going 4-0 against Arkansas including the last Mizzou game he coached concluding the 2019 season in Little Rock.
“I love him, he gave me a shot,” Mizzou safety Martez Manuel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The best way to respect him is to prepare for the Razorbacks like I’m playing the Super Bowl.”
Of course Odom, who worked his way up to Mizzou head coach in 17 Mizzou years from grad assistant, recruiting coordinator and football operations director, safeties coach and defensive coordinator after successfully coordinating the University of Memphis, has the publicly unspoken but obvious motivation to prove wrong his alma mater that fired him.
He’s not alone wanting to prove Mizzou wrong.
With him not retained at Mizzou to Arkansas, Odom brought offensive line coach Brad Davis, cornerbacks coach Sam Carter and Michael Scherer, a Mizzou grad and former linebacker now in Arkansas defense quality control.
Arkansas’ roster includes five Missourians including top specialists kickoff man Vito Calvaruso and deep snapper Jordan Silver of Branson.
For Mizzou, Fayetteville’s Barrett Banister, the grandson of Harold Horton, the enshrined UA Sports Hall of Honor former Arkansas player, assistant coach, recruiting coordinator and Razorback Foundation president and nephew of 2021 UA Sports Hall of Fame inductee Tim Horton, but not offered a UA scholarship during Arkansas’ Jeff Long/Bret Bielema era, has caught 8 passes for 72 yards against Arkansas helping Mizzou prevail in 2018 and 2019 in Columbia and Little Rock.
Another Fayetteville High grad, starting defensive tackle Akial Byers not offered an Arkansas scholarship, has three years lettered for Mizzou personally factoring 3-0 over Arkansas.
Rick Jones, the fabled eight-time Arkansas state champion high school coach at Greenwood, where he coached Razorbacks Butkus Award finalist linebacker Grant Morgan, is an analyst on Drinkwitz’s staff.
If all that doesn’t inspire, Missouri’s winning 5 of the 6 of their 2014 annual SEC West vs. SEC East crossover clash certainly should motivate these Hogs.
“We haven’t won the game since 2015,” fifth-year senior Morgan said of joining Arkansas as a 2016 freshman walk-on. “I’ve never beat Missouri. So it’s something we want to do.”
And extend Odom’s Mizzou vs. Arkansas winning streak to 4-0 switching sides.
“He’s a secret weapon,” Morgan said. “He’s definitely on our side and we’re glad to have him. It’s the same thing with Coach Brad Davis, Coach Sam Carter, Coach Mike Scherer. We want to go win the game for them. But more importantly we want to just win the game.”
That’s a formidable task even as the betting line opened with Mizzou a mere 1-point favorite at home.
The Tigers loom big and physical on both lines of scrimmage, Pittman said.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak, injured against Arkansas last year starting for injured since moved on starter Kelly Bryant as Fayetteville’s now moving on in the portal Taylor Powell quarterbacked Mizzou’ victory in relief, is well established now as a 7-games starter completing 70 percent of his passes.
Mizzou sports a unique 1-2 running back punch. Senior Larry Rountree has all-time career outrushed all Mizzou running backs including 650 yards and 8 touchdowns on 143 carries this season, and Tyler Badie, Mizzou’s second leading receiver with 20 catches for 302 yards.
Odom bequeathed a hard-hitting Mizzou defense led by Butkus Award finalist linebacker Nick Bolton.
For Saturday’s first half Arkansas will be without its hardest hitter, safety Jalen Catalon mandated to sit until the second half because of the controversial fourth-quarter targeting penalty slapped upon him against LSU.

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