FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas hasn’t had any good luck when playing at Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC.
The Hogs are winless in Columbia and they hope to break that skid on Friday. Missouri (5-6, 2-5) needs to defeat the Hogs to become bowl eligible. Arkansas was in the same situation this past Saturday night and Ole Miss walked into a hornet’s nest in Fayetteville. Arkansas was up 42-6 after two plays in the third quarter. The Hogs may be heading to a similar situation on Friday.
Missouri has struggled this season, but are 4-2 at home. They only lost to No. 1 Georgia 26-22 on Oct. 1. They have had several other close losses in the SEC. Only Tennessee handed them a one-sided loss. The Vols blasted them 66-24 on Nov. 12.
Here’s five keys for Arkansas to get a victory.
KJ Jefferson, Rocket Sanders Have Big Games
Missouri is very, very good against the run. The Hogs obviously are a balanced offense, but thrive when they are able to run the football. Rocket Sanders and the Hogs struggled running the ball against Liberty and LSU with both games resulting in losses. Sanders ran wild against Ole Miss and the Hogs got an easy victory. Jefferson has to have a big game passing. Missouri is going to try and force the Hogs to pass more than they want. Jefferson has had a lot of success passing the football when healthy. If he has a big game on Friday and Sanders is able to get his rushing yardage the Hogs should get that first win in Columbia.
Create Turnovers, Not Turn It Over
The Hogs need to create some turnovers and protect the ball themselves. A short field for the offense would be helpful against a talented Missouri defense. When the Hogs don’t turn it over on offense they usually have a great chance at winning. The Tigers have lost 11 fumbles this season which is one per game. Brady Cook has tossed seven interceptions so the Tigers are prone to turning it over. If the Razorbacks can get 2-3 turnovers and not have any that would be a huge step to getting a win.
Success in Red Zone
Missouri is only giving up 24.8 points per game. The Tigers are No. 31 in the nation in total defense, but one area they have struggled on defense is in the red zone. They rank No. 116 nationally in red zone defense. Teams have had success against them when they get in the red zone. Arkansas ranks No. 86 nationally in red zone offense. While Cam Little is a very reliable kicker, the Hogs need to get seven down there not three. Points will likely be hard to come by so each trip to the Missouri red zone is important to come away with points, preferably seven.
Take the game to Missouri on both sides of the football. In recent games the defense has started getting more sacks and applying pressure on the opposing quarterback. That trend needs to continue on Friday. Also, be aggressive on offense. Don’t be predictable, keep the Tigers off balance and guessing what you are doing on each play. Make the Missouri quarterback uncomfortable all day.
No Easy Touchdowns
Arkansas’ defense has to make the Tigers, who aren’t very good on offense, earn every yard and point they get. Don’t give up the long touchdown passes or runs from distance for scores. Don’t allow an average Missouri offense to make big, explosive plays. If the Hogs do this the chances of a win go up tremendously.