LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – What occasionally has been a compelling Black Friday matchup will bring a merciful end to a disappointing season when Arkansas hosts Missouri on Friday in Little Rock. The Tigers have lost five straight following a 5-1 start, and the Razorbacks are trying to avoid their second consecutive winless campaign in conference play.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Missouri -12
Missouri learned Tuesday that the NCAA denied the Tigers’ appeal and upheld their bowl ban, so even with a sixth victory their season ends Friday. They should have a good chance to end on a high note against the Razorbacks, who have lost 22 of 23 SEC games over the past three seasons. Arkansas is playing its second game under interim coach Barry Lunney Jr., who suffered through a 56-20 blowout at No. 1 LSU in his debut. The Tigers have won the past three meetings in the Battle Line rivalry, including a 38-0 rout at home last season.
ABOUT MISSOURI (5-6, 2-5 SEC)
Even during the losing streak, the Tigers’ defense has been steady. The unit ranks 17th nationally in total defense and 23rd in scoring defense (19.9 points), but the offense hasn’t been able to provide enough support lately, totaling 47 points during the five-game skid. The offense almost did enough in a 24-20 loss to Tennessee last week, but the ground game continued to sputter as the Tigers failed to crack 100 rushing yards for the third straight contest and fell short of 300 total yards for the fifth consecutive game.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (2-9, 0-7)
The Razorbacks boast a 1,000-yard rusher in Rakeem Boyd, but they have not found consistency at the quarterback position. Arkansas has used four starters under center, and could make it five if Jack Lindsey gets his first start with KJ Jefferson and Nick Starkel in concussion protocol. It might not matter who is running the offense if the Razorbacks can’t find some solutions on defense - they have the sixth-worst run defense in the nation at 228.5 yards.
1. Missouri RB Larry Rountree III needs 112 rushing yards to surpass Henry Josey for fifth on the school’s all-time list.
2. Arkansas WR Treylon Burks has a team-high 469 receiving yards - the most by a Razorback freshman since Marcus Monk had 569 in 2004.
3. Missouri K Tucker McCann has 352 career points, third in program history behind Jeff Wolfert (362) and Andrew Baggett (355).
PREDICTION: Missouri 27, Arkansas 20