NSS Home > Arkansas Razorbacks > The Battle Line Rivalry, 2019 Edition

Missouri (5-6) at Arkansas (2-9)

1:30 pm CT War Memorial Stadium Little Rock, AR Coverage: CBS

The Battle Line Rivalry is the name given to the Arkansas-Missouri football rivalry. The teams have met nine times between November 1906 and 2017. They have faced off twice in bowl games, first in the 2003 Independence Bowl and second in the 2008 Cotton Bowl Classic. The rivalry was formally introduced in 2014 and the Battle Line trophy was first awarded in 2015. Missouri leads the all-time series 7-3, with the most recent win and largest win coming in 2018 in Columbia 38-0.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Mizzou has an 82.4% chance to win the matchup, extending their steak to four games against the Hogs. The Tigers are favored in this matchup again, this year by 12 points, per ESPN+ Pick Center. Over/Under 53.5 which should be able to be well over with both teams struggling on defense and both offensives slowly coming along.

Mizzou is led by transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant, who transferred from Clemson after the 2018 season. Bryant on the year is 181-292 for 2,215 yards with 15 TD and 6 INT and has ran the ball 106 times for 242 yards. Since his move to Mizzou, he has not been the same quarterback that he was at Clemson with the Dabo high-powered offense, but still in games he has played, he has made his presence known. Mizzou come into Little Rock needing a win, with a 5-6 record, but no bowl possibility which give the Hogs a big opportunity to be a season-ender for the Tigers. The Tigers have been on a tough streak as well as the Razorbacks, with both teams losing their last 5 games. Arkansas has allowed an average of 38 points per game while Mizzou allow 20.

Arkansas Offense

With KJ Jefferson and Nick Starkel in concussion protocol, there is a possibility to see Jack Lindsey under center in Little Rock to end the season. Lindsey went 3/4 for 51 yards and a TD in Death Valley last week, so there should not be much drop off if he is called upon. Unfortunately for the Hog fans in Little Rock, KJ will not be present in War Memorial for the Battle Line Rivalry. A concussion from the LSU game will have him out, so Jack Lindsey will be at the helm for the Hogs. Arkansas should be using a heavy dose of Rakeem Boyd without the presence of KJ. Lunney has a 1000-yard rusher to use against a team that allows 129.8 yards per game on the ground. Since there is a question at quarterback this week, the game plan should be simple, run the ball and work off that with play action. The Hogs still have a good backfield with the combo of Boyd and Whaley with a combined 12 TDs on the season.

Along with the possible 5th different quarterback on the season to play for the Hogs, the wide receiver core needs to step up. Trey Knox, who has 27 catches for 366 yards on the season with 2 TD, has not been as spectacular as he was in the beginning of the season. Fellow Freshman Treylon Burks has been the star of the receiving core with 28 receptions for 469 yards, but surprisingly enough, no TDs on the season. Expect that to change in Little Rock with the offense finally looking for him in the red zone and not just to get there.

Arkansas Defense

Lunney announced Tuesday that Junior linebacker Hayden Henry’s season is officially over after undergoing shoulder surgery “a few days ago.” Henry had 31 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack through ten games this season. “Hayden Henry is going to be out for the rest of the year,” Lunney said. “He had should surgery a fee days ago, so he won’t be available this week. It was a significant injury. There’s nobody tougher on our football team. He’s played with a brace and has tried to play it and it got to the point where it was counterproductive for him and his long-term health. So, he had a really successful surgery a few days ago. He’s already on the mend, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll e fine—he’ll attach his rehab the same way he attacks everything else in life, with a great dedication, guys, determination and grit. That goy’s tough. So, we’ll be without him, we’ll miss him certainly. I know it’s going to be hard on him, we’re in Little Rock, home for him, so I’m saddened for that. But it was the right thing for him to do at this time.”

Cornerback Montaric Brown was not able to play at LSU and may be out for the season finale too.

The media normally gets to watch the first 20 minutes of practice but was not allowed to do so this week. Of course, Lunney was asked about that decision. “I just think that quarterback situations stuff is so over-done, it’s so saturated. Only we know, and need to know, what’s going on behind closed doors at this point in time. Again, this is not an attempt at deception or anything like that, but that combined with how late we are in the season, we’re going right into team, right away.” 

The Arkansas defense is going to need the overall defense to get on the same page. With Agim clogging up the middle of the defensive line, they need for Gabe Richardson, Jamario Bell, and Mataio Soli to all step up and cause Kelly Bryant to get out of the pocket. Now while this sounds good, Bumper Pool, De’Jon Harris, and Grant Morgan are going to have to step up with the loss of Henry to the linebacker core. Expect Bryant and his offense to know the Hog linebacker core is depleted more than usual and try to exploit that with his RPO game.

Prediction

Arkansas has a tough game on their hands. Fans are wanting something to cheer about, as well as the players have a strong urge to finally break the long SEC losing streak. This Friday has a strong possibility to make this finally happen for players and fans. Mizzou has lost 5 straight games and cannot go to a bowl, no matter what the outcome. With the possibility of rain again in Little Rock, Boyd should get a lot of carries to keep the clock running and keep the defense off the field for the Hogs. Bryant has something to prove to try to boost his NFL stock for a chance of getting drafted while the Arkansas quarterback position is up for grabs. With 2 slumping teams going head to head and neither really looking any good, on either side of the ball, the offenses should be able to get some yards and put points are the board. Boyd should be able to come out and get his 100-yard rushing game to end the season as well as Lindsey should be able to get things rolling behind Lunney’s coaching. Without KJ as quarterback there will not be much to look at to plan for Lindsey. Interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. should end the Hog season with a bang and take a little pressure off the new head Hog for next year. The SEC winless streak will finally end in War Memorial Stadium, forcing the University of Arkansas to keep games in Little Rock after a good showing, considering the bad year and the SEC loss streak finally broken.

Final Score:  Mizzou- 35 Arkansas- 45
Justin Garrison
http://naturalstatesports.com
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports Co-Host of Thursday night live show "The Sports Junkies" along side Steve Hinson