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Mizzou Preview: Q&A with Rock M Nation

Thanks to @OscarGamble over at @RockMNation for taking the time to answer our questions, so we can enjoy reading them while in our holiday food coma.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

AF: A really interesting match up of strengths vs strength (Arkansas' O Mizzou's D) and weakness vs weakness. Looking at the points Arkansas' defense has given up to spread teams this year, does that give you more confidence in the Mizzou offense?

RMN: If I'm being totally honest: no.

Missouri's awffense (see what I did there?) has been miserable for basically the entire season, only looking semi-competent against a bad South Carolina defense (who's coach had basically already retired) and a decent BYU team (on the heels of Gary Pinkel announcing his own retirement).

I get that Arkansas' defense isn't "good" and that might give some fans hope. Bill Connelly's numbers suggest that this is "This is the worst standard downs defense Missouri has faced since September." so one might hope that the running game that showed up for the BYU game can make one final appearance and give a semblance of potency. But this is a team that couldn't muster more than 8 points in Gary Pinkel's final home game so I really have to question its motivation.

AF: Theoretically, Mizzou could lose this game and still make a bowl. (For the readers, it's a long story of too many bowls and not enough 6-6 or better teams. They will then selected 5-7 teams with the best APR scores to fill those slots. Mizzou has a great APR.) How would you feel about playing in a bowl game at 5-7?

RMN: From what I've read it seems Missouri is on the outside looking in of those teams trying to get to a bowl game at 5-7. The numbers just don't favor them and frankly I'm not sure if the team wants to play another bowl game.

Whether or not the players want to make a bowl game is a question and the coaching staff probably wants to get a headstart on future coaching opportunities while Missouri's AD, Mack Rhoades, but ultimately make the decision. It wouldn't be financially beneficial for the program to play in Detroit or Shreveport and would delay the installation of a new head coach.

Basically what I'm saying is, I wouldn't be in favor of Mizzou going bowling unless they get a 6th win.

AF: Gary Pinkel is a legend. We wish him all the best in retirement. Is it going to be tough for the next guy to follow someone like him? Who is your gut feeling that guy will be?

RMN: It's obviously difficult to follow the winningest coach in Missouri football history and the guy who turned Mizzou from a program that twice came within a quarter of contending for a National Championship. He built the foundation of the program such that it could compete in the best conference in college football. Pinkel's success paved the way for Mizzou to realistically strive for conference and national championships and while he never won either, his successor will have a clear outline of Missouri's ceiling and floor.

For me that man is current defensive coordinator Barry Odom - a former linebacker at Mizzou who coached under Pinkel until 2009 before leaving to test his mettle at Memphis then returning and improving an already well-regarded defense. Odom's promotion would also allow the line of succession for current coordinators, like defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, to earn their own promotions while maintaining continuity in the program.

AF: Does this feel like a rivalry yet or nah?

RMN: Last year's game had a big game atmosphere because if Missouri didn't make it to a second SEC Championship game it would be Arkansas' fault and I really didn't think Missouri would win - they damn near didn't. But an unhealthy Brandon Allen and a fortunate fumble recover by Markus Golden sealed the victory and was one of thousands who rushed the field.

This year the only thing Missouri has to play for is bowl eligibility to send Gary Pinkel out a winner. If they can't do that in Fayettenam it really may be a BlackFriday for Mizzou fans but I don't think it'll do much to fan the flames of this rivalry. This is a still primarily a basketball rivalry and that's okay to me.

AF: Game prediction.

RMN: The spread is Arkansas -14 and the over/under is 46. Missouri almost gaurantees the under because of their awffense (sic) and Bill's S&P+ numbers have Arkansas with an 83.5% win probability and suggest a 36-19 Razorback win. (Writer's note: It took all year for someone to finally talk gambling numbers with me.)

Brandon Allen looks healthy and despite y'all having numerous injuries I think his connection with Dan Enos makes him the difference maker he should have been last year.

I'm thinking something like Arkansas 28-14 Missouri.