Missouri at Arkansas
When: 1:30 p.m.
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark.
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Radio: KMBZ (98.1 FM)
Line: Missouri by 9.5
The lowdown: Missouri (6-5, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) has clinched a bowl berth. Now the Tigers are looking to win their sixth game in a row and improve their resume before the SEC places them in a postseason game. Mizzou’s offense has been explosive for weeks now and doesn’t seem to miss running back Damarea Crockett, who has been out with a shoulder injury since this winning streak began. Quarterback Drew Lock continues to play well and improve his draft stock, which means he should have to consider whether to leave for the NFL with a year of eligibility left. MU’s defense, which struggled mightily to begin the year, has improved in all facets in recent weeks. The Tigers have held all of their past four opponents to fewer than 20 points. Arkansas played a close home game against then-No. 16 Mississippi State a weekend ago — but the stands were mostly empty. The Razorbacks are 4-7 overall and 1-6 in the SEC. Arkansas fired its athletic director earlier this month, and the school will likely fire football coach Bret Bielema after the season ends.
Missouri’s key to success: Don’t turn the ball over. Mizzou is the better team, and it should win this game by a wide margin. If the Tigers don’t do that, it will likely be because they turned the ball over too many times. Lock regularly throws at least one interception per game, but he didn’t last week in a win over Vanderbilt, and Missouri has not lost a fumble since Oct. 7 against Kentucky. Mizzou once had the worst turnover margin in the country, but MU has not lost the turnover battle since that Kentucky game.
Arkansas’ key to success: Defend well on third down. The Razorbacks are the only team in the SEC that has allowed opponents to convert more third downs than Missouri. Arkansas’ opponents have converted 46.5 percent of their third downs. Like Mizzou, Arkansas’ defense has improved in recent weeks, and it will need to continue that trend for the Razorbacks to have a chance against the Tigers’ explosive offense, which can turn games into blowouts in one quarter.
Key matchup: Missouri’s defensive line vs. Arkansas’ offensive line. The Razorbacks are second to last in the SEC in tackles for loss allowed. They’ve given up 74 TFLs this season, including a season high six last week. Mizzou’s defensive line has shown tremendous improvement during this winning streak. The Tigers has averaged 9.2 TFLs during the past five games.
Aaron Reiss’ prediction: Missouri 42, Arkansas 10. None of Missouri’s win this season have been close games. Their slimmest margin of victory has been 28 points. This game won’t be close either. Mizzou will go up big early, and the Tigers will have a chance to earn an eighth victory in their bowl game after starting the season 1-5.