Preview: Mizzou vs. Arkansas

Mizzou Football (9-2 overall, 6-1 SEC) returns home this week after two straight road wins to play host to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Senior Day at The ZOU. Fans are encouraged to wear black to Friday’s contest for Mizzou’s annual Blackout Game.

The game, officially deemed The Battle Line Rivalry presented by Shelter Insurance, will be the start of a new yearly tradition for the bordering state neighbors.

The rivalry clashes against both geographic and historical boundaries—from disputed demarcations of the border separating the two states to notable alumni and former personnel with ties to both storied athletic programs. The historic rivalry between the two states will take on even more meaning now, as every Thanksgiving weekend the Battle Line will be drawn on the gridiron.

Mizzou and Arkansas are currently working together to commission a permanent trophy for the Battle Line Rivalry. The trophy will be presented to the inaugural winner at their home basketball game against the rival. Dates for the Arkansas vs. Mizzou Men’s Basketball games are January 24 in Columbia and February 18 in Fayetteville.

Mizzou vs. Arkansas In History

Mizzou and Arkansas have met just five times previously, with the Tigers holding a 3-2 series edge. The schools have alternated wins each outing, with the last two coming in bowl games.

Mizzou claimed the last meeting, taking a 38-7 win in the 2008 Cotton Bowl to cap a 12-2 season in which the Tigers claimed their first SEC East title. Arkansas took the prior meeting in the 2003 Independence Bowl by a score of 27-14. The first meeting between Mizzou and Arkansas was way back in 1906 in Columbia, a game the Tigers won 11-0. The teams wouldn’t meet again until 1944 in St. Louis, with Arkansas winning that one by a 7-6 margin. Mizzou returned the favor in 1963 in Little Rock, Ark., with a 7-6 win of its own.

Mizzou Football Seniors

Mizzou is honoring 21 seniors before Friday’s game, and after the game each senior will take the traditional walk to the historic Rock M to claim a rock as a personal memento of their time in Markus Golden, Darvin Ruisethe program.

The 2014 senior class has contributed to some very special achievements during their time in Columbia. They’ve won 34 games in the past four seasons and played a key role in Mizzou’s magical 12-2 season a year ago that included an SEC Eastern Division title, a Cotton Bowl victory, and a No. 5 national ranking in the season’s final poll. Additionally, many of them redshirted as true freshmen in 2010 when the Tigers shared the Big 12 Conference North Division title.

The seniors being honored include:

Most importantly, the current Mizzou senior class is getting it done in the classroom. Seven from this outstanding group have already earned their undergraduate degrees (Brinser, Carberry, Gatti, Hoch, Morse, Murphy and White), while every other senior is on pace to graduate by May. Mizzou Football owns the top Academic Progress Rate in the SEC, and as a whole, the university is second in the league in overall APR, trailing only Vanderbilt by less than three points. Nationally, Mizzou Football ranks in the top five in APR among BCS Automatic Qualifying Universities.

Difference Makers

Mizzou has been getting out of the gate quickly of late. In their current five-game winning streak, the Tigers have gotten on the board first in every contest, including getting points the very first time they’ve touched the ball four times. In all, Mizzou has struck first in each of its nine wins this season.

Marcus MurphyIn the turnover department, Mizzou has been stellar. The Tigers have run 750 plays in 11 games so far in 2014, and only one has resulted in a lost fumble, the fewest in the nation. Defensively, Mizzou has forced 20 turnovers (12 interceptions, 8 fumbles) and have turned those takeaways into 130 points on the other side of the ball, compared to just 54 points off turnovers for opponents.

Mizzou enters Friday’s game against Arkansas ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in red zone efficiency, as the Tiger offense has converted 93.6 percent of its opportunities (29-of-31). Against FBS opponents, Mizzou is nearly perfect. The only time the Tigers didn’t turn a red zone trip into points was against UCF on September 13, when, holding onto a 38-10 lead late in the fourth quarter, they ran up the middle on fourth down on the UCF 14-yardline.

Kickoff for the Mizzou-Arkansas game is set for 1:30 p.m. CT on Friday, November 28, and can be seen on CBS. Mizzou Football will post live updates on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook throughout the game, and fans can also listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates.