By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has its bowl eligibility secured and now will try to win at Missouri for the first time since 1944.
The Hogs haven’t beaten Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC. The last time Arkansas won in Columbia Glen Rose was the head coach and the Hogs opened the 1944 season with a 7-6 win over the Tigers.
It’s not like Arkansas hasn’t had its opportunities to win in Columbia. In 2014, Arkansas lost 21-14. In 2016, Missouri overcame a large deficit to down the Razorbacks 28-24. In 2018, Missouri completely dominated Chad Morris’ lone trip to Columbia 38-0. Then in Sam Pittman’s first trip as head coach in 2020, Arkansas played without starting quarterback Feleipe Franks and lost 50-48.
In 2014, Pittman was the offensive line coach for Bret Bielema. The Hogs were coming off wins over LSU and Ole Miss by a combined 47-0. However, with quarterback Brandon Allen banged up, the Razorbacks couldn’t get over the top.
“I remember the ’14 game because Brandon Allen was … I don’t know … but he was hurt now going into the game,” Pittman said. “Matter of fact, going into the game, we didn’t know if he would play. And he was sore taking center-quarterback exchanges. He just toughed it out you know. So he was hurt. I remember that. I think we were up at the half, maybe 14 or something like that. And they came back and they actually won the [East] that year if I’m not mistaken. In ’16 I had my own problems over there at Georgia you know. And I don’t know what happened.
“When we went up there last time we had a lead on them as well. Then they came back and we went for 2 and took the lead and obviously they had a nice drive there at the end. Rivalry games, it should be close games. I think we’re two pretty evenly matched teams. Coach (Eli) Drinkwitz does a great job. I don’t know what it is, to be honest with you. Each year is a little bit different. It seems like the results have been the same up there. But I think our kids will be ready. I’m sure Missouri will be because of bowl eligibility.”
Last year, Arkansas won all its trophy games. This season, both Texas A&M and LSU defeated the Hogs to take the trophies back. This will be Arkansas’ chance to hold onto the Battle Line Rivalry trophy. Arkansas defeated Missouri 34-17 last season in Fayetteville. Pittman was asked if trophies are important to him and the team?
“No, no, they’re important,” Pittman said. “We just don’t have them. We have this one. They’re really important to our football team. I had been bringing the trophy into the team meeting, and I didn’t this one. I put a picture of it from when we won it last year. I’m trying to change the mojo on these trophies. The case doesn’t need to be empty out there.
“So obviously we’ll take the trophy up there and we hope we get it back. But no, it’s a big game. I think Missouri has a place for it in their locker room and certainly we have a place for it here. We’d love to keep it. It is a big deal.”
Kickoff Friday will be at 2:30 p.m. and televised on CBS.