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Battle Line Rivalry: Previewing Arkansas vs. Missouri

Arkansas closes out the regular season with a potentially very interesting game against an SEC East opponent.

Former Missouri Tigers running back Russell Hansbrough carries the football in the first quarter of Arkansas’ 28-3 win over the Tigers on November 28, 2015 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.


We’re beautifully close to the college football season being in full swing and even though last year was the worst season of all-time, there are actually some reasons to be hopeful. For that reason, we’re breaking down each game we will play this year and exploring a little bit about each opponent. Ultimately, we’ll make some level of prediction about our chances - for better or worse. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ArkansasFight to keep up with all the latest posts, and don’t forget to sign up to be a pollster for our site!

Week 13 - November 29, 2019


Missouri Tigers


War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Arkansas is the designated home team and the game will kick at 1:30PM CT.

Their coach:

Barry Odom.

Entering his fourth year as the head man in Columbia, the 42-year-old Odom has a balanced 19-19 record at the school. After struggling to a 4-8 (2-6 SEC) record in 2016, Odom’s program has reached a bowl game each of the last two seasons, losing on both occasions.

Dating back to his days as a graduate assistant in 2003, Odom is headed into his ninth year with the Missouri program. He served as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach under Gary Pinkel in 2015 prior to his promotion.

In December 2018, Odom agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2024 season. The deal pays him a reported $3.05M annually.

While being under contract for six more seasons is nice, Odom does have to deal with the realities of the bowl game ban his program is facing in 2019. Missouri was handed the one-year ban by the NCAA after an investigation into allegations of academic fraud. The Tigers have appealed the decision and a ruling is expected at some point in September.

Our record against them:

In 10 all-time meetings, the Razorbacks are 3-7 against the Missouri Tigers.

First squaring off in 1906, these two programs have played five times since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012 with the Tigers winning four of those games.

Arkansas’ last win in the series was the 28-3 triumph in Fayetteville on November 27, 2015.

Key players:

QB Kelly Bryant: A grad transfer from Clemson, Bryant started the first four games of the 2018 season for the eventual national champions before being surpassed by then-freshman Trevor Lawrence. In those four games, Bryant completed 66.7% (36-54) of his passes for 461 yards, two touchdowns and one interception; he added 130 yards on the ground.

Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Derek Dooley added several pro-style concepts to better fit Drew Lock’s skill set last year. It will be interesting to see how different the Tigers’ attack looks with Bryant calling the signals.

RB Larry Rountree III: Finishing fourth in the SEC with 1,216 rushing yards as a sophomore in 2018, Rountree averaged 5.4 yards per carry and added 11 touchdowns.

He accomplished this despite splitting carries with Damarea Crockett for the first 11 games. With Crockett now a member of Houston Texans, the opportunity is there for Rountree to seize an even greater workload.

If Rountree picks up where he left off last year, it will make Bryant’s transition all that much smoother.

S Tyree Gillespie: A junior, Gillespie has been contributing in the Tigers’ defensive backfield since his days as a freshman.

He made his first start in the loss to Alabama last year and wound up third on the team in tackles (48).

Missouri defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters employs a 4-2-5 base defense featuring three safeties. Having thrived in Walters’ system, Gillespie will be among the Tigers’ most counted on players on defense.

A very short recap of their last season:

Missouri finished 8-5 (4-4 SEC) in 2018.

The team began 3-0 before dropping three consecutive games to Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.

They were able to close the regular season with four straight wins, but lost the Liberty Bowl to Oklahoma State, 38-33.

How we feel about our chances:

Apart from the Georgia Bulldogs, the SEC East looks wide open - especially after Florida’s less than stellar showing vs. Miami.

South Carolina has the potential to be a threat, but Missouri looks like one of the top-three teams in the East. I think Arkansas can keep this game close, but the Tigers ultimately win by about 10 points. I’m guessing 34-24.

Thanks for checking out the final installment in our series on Arkansas’ 2019 football season! Be sure to sign up for our SB Nation poll and follow @ArkansasFight on Twitter. Feel free to follow @TeddyRydquist, too.